Consumers struggling with confidence

Consumer confidence continues to bump along at low levels—and CGA Peach data suggests there is little sign of it picking up any time soon.

Various surveys have identified low to middling levels of confidence and spending in the last few months. The latest, from Barclaycard, indicates that spending fell for the second month in a row in April, with patchy wage growth, flat employment rates and Brexit uncertainties all to blame.

CGA Peach’s BrandTrack survey of British consumers in April confirms the picture of a fragile consumer economy. It found that only 28% of consumers were optimistic or very optimistic about the state of the economy in 2016—compared to 30% who were pessimistic or very pessimistic.

Optimism levels tend to be higher among younger people, with more 18 to 34 year-olds optimistic (35%) about the economy than pessimistic (24%). This is in stark contrast to those aged 55 or over—only 25% of these are optimistic, and 32% pessimistic.

Significantly, there is no sign of confidence increasing. More than one in five (22%) said they were now less confident in the economy than they were a year ago—twice the number (11%) who said they were more confident.

This is prompting many people to tighten their purse strings, and 19% of consumers responding to the BrandTrack poll say they are likely to spend less on eating and drinking out this year compared to last—more than the 14% who are likely to spend more.

The figures compare with stats from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker that show very modest growth in spending with managed pubs and restaurants since the start of 2016. March saw like for like sales nudge up just 0.6%, while February was flat.