Switch Off From Social Doom -- UK Consumer Confidence Hits A Record High

Hate to go against the doom and gloom of talk of a constitutional crisis over the Lords voting down working tax credit reductions, but actually, as we probably all know already, consumer confidence is at a high point. In fact, it has just tipped over the 100% bar set by Nielsen in its quarterly Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions review. That's only the second time in the past decade.

This comes as the big brands launch for Christmas, and can only be good news. A couple of surveys have come out suggesting that consumer confidence is low, but I'm never too persuaded by reports from those that are not leaders in the field who have use the same methodology of interviewing tens of thousand of consumers in multiple markets for several years. The truth is, the country has never employed more people than it currently does, interest rates have remained just about zero for several years, and despite what you're reading every day about working tax credits, when April comes the point at which you start paying tax will have nearly doubled in just five years from just over six thousand pounds to around eleven. Oh, and the living wage that's coming in from April will also give someone working a full week a four thousand-pound rise by 2020, of which -- as just mentioned -- less will be taxed.

I'm truly not trying to make a party political point here, but sometimes you just have to get off the typically left-wing slant of social media to appreciate that all is not doom and gloom and a plot to rob the working classes. Need another statistic before we continue? OK -- well, with the proposed reductions to in-work benefits would take us down to the sort of spending we had under a Labour government recently for many years when the benefits were being triumphed as a boost to families to underline how it pays to work.

So things aren't as bad as the headlines and those who spend their lives ranting on social media make them out to be -- and that's why brands should be looking at the new Nielsen report with interest. 

Not only is overall confidence matching its previous high of nearly a decade ago, before the global financial crisis, but positive sentiment around purchases and personal finances has risen. Perhaps most interestingly, the proportion of consumers who think another recession is likely is at an all-time low. Only Denmark stands above the UK within the EU for consumer confidence, as does India and the USA globally. 

So as Black Friday approaches -- somehow we've picked up this American phenomenon alongside trick-or-treating -- brands will have to consider their strategies. Clearly, those who thought there would be a surge at the end of November that wouldn't impact the likelihood of a surge in the run up to Christmas were wrong last year. People bought the gifts they were expecting to, they just got organised earlier and took advantage of a new retailer habit of offering discounts a month before Christmas. 

Brands that factor in consumer confidence in to their plans can be reassured that this is the most positive UK consumers have been in a decade, and that can only be good news.

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