Page last updated at 10:24 GMT, Monday, 2 November 2009

Consumer confidence on the rise

50% off sale sign
More people feel it is a 'good' time to buy what they want

Consumer confidence has risen to its highest level for 18 months but major job fears remain, according to research by the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

More people feel it is a "good" time to buy what they want, with slightly fewer worrying about their personal finances.

The study also shows that 70% of people are spending less on clothes, gas and electricity to save on household costs.

BRC boss Stephen Robertson said: "the general mood" was better than a year ago, but "improvement has been slow".

'Job worries'

Even when the economy returns to growth, 54% of consumers say they will still aim to save on utility bills.

The BRC's latest Consumer Confidence Index shows an increase to 75, compared to the all-time-low reported in April of 65 .

Half of consumers believe we'll still be in recession in a year's time
Stephen Robertson, British Retail Consortium

The figure, although still weak, reflects that slightly more people are feeling positive about job prospects and their own finances.

But the BRC believes that it will be a long, slow climb out of recession for many.

"Half of consumers believe we'll still be in recession in a year's time," said Mr Robertson.

"More than half are worried about jobs and their own finances and that will hold back full scale retail recovery well into next year."

Fuel bills

Nearly one in four people believe job prospects will be 'bad' over the next 12 months, compared with 20% who think they will be "good" or "excellent".

But while concerns about the economy and job security are easing, concerns over debt and work-life balance are increasing, with debt the biggest worry for 15% of people.

However, research shows that shoppers are noticing that inflation is slowing and concerns over food bills, utility bills and fuel prices are all down on 12 months ago.

The recession has caused consumers to change their lifestyle, with some saying they plan to continue the changes when the economy recovers.

Changes in spending in order to save on household costs was one of the strategies employed by consumers, with people buying fewer clothes and cutting down on takeaways.

Saving on gas and electricity was also attempted by households keen to cut their budgets.

More than half of consumers say they will still aim to save on gas and electricity even when the recession ends.



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