British consumption registered a small uptick in December, especially in the distressed clothing sector, although online sales were reportedly not as buoyant as expected. However, the U.K.’s official exit from the European Union on Dec. 31 and a new extended coronavirus lockdown have apparently created a “perfect storm” that contributed to knock off two points from GfK’s Consumer Confidence Index for the country. It now stands at -28.
Four of the five measurements that feed into the market research agency’s index have declined as compared to December. The General Economic Situation for the past 12 months has also lost two points and stands at -67, a full 39 points down from January 2020. Expectations for the coming year are down nine points from December and 20 points from last January. The figure for personal finance over the last 12 months rose by one point to -8 but is nine points down from January 2020, and the personal-finance projection for the next 12 months is off by one point to +2, for a four-point deficit from January 2020. The Major Purchase Index is down two points to -24 from December and 25 points from January 2020. While the Savings Index is up one point to +18 from December, it is down two points from last January.
“Despite the widespread anticipation of a ‘return to normal’ with the ramp-up of the vaccination programme,” says GfK’s client strategy director, Joe Staton, “it is too early to deliver a [shot] in the arm to UK consumer confidence.”
No European country has reported more Covid-19 infections than the U.K. (3,395,959) except for Russia (3,591,066), whose population is more than twice bigger, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Next come France (2,910,989), Italy (2,381,277) and Spain (2,336,451).