Consumer confidence in the UK has sunk to its lowest score since records began in 1974, amid widespread concerns around the rising cost of living.
Market research firm GfK’s long-running Consumer Confidence Index, a monthly survey which assesses the economic health of the UK, decreased by two points to -40 in May 2022.
The index measuring changes in the perception of personal finances over the last 12 months has also decreased three points to -22, which is 18 points worse than May 2021.
“This comes as UK unemployment hits a 50-year low with vacancies outnumbering job seekers for the first time, and inflation peaking at a 40-year high driven by soaring food and fuel bills,” said Joe Staton, Client Strategy Director of Gfk.
“May’s result is one point lower than the previous record set in July 2008 when the headline score plunged to -39.
“This means consumer confidence is now weaker than in the darkest days of the global banking crisis, the impact of Brexit on the economy, or the Covid shutdown.”
The forecast for personal finances over the next 12 months increased by one point to -25.
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This was the only category to rise during the period, but is still 35 points lower than this time last year.
“The outlook for consumer confidence is gloomy, and nothing on the economic horizon shows a reason for optimism any time soon,” added Staton.
It comes after the British Beauty Council urged the UK Government to intervene and support businesses amid soaring inflation and rising energy costs last week.
Despite the number of empty storefronts in the UK falling for the first time in four years, the British Beauty Council has warned that the recent high street recovery could be short-lived without action.
It added that beauty businesses are also having to cope with higher National Insurance bills, business rate increases and the end of the Covid-rent debt moratorium that protected them from eviction for unpaid rent.
“No one can deny the immense pressure our sector has been under over the pandemic, and it's encouraging to see that business owners still recognise hair and beauty as a viable industry on the high street,” said Victoria Brownlie, Chief Policy Officer, British Beauty Council at the time.
“However, the latest data does not account for the energy price cap increase, which has led to steep price increases for millions of customers.
"We urgently need help for soaring energy costs in the same way the Government helped domestic households earlier in the year.”