Consumer: ‘Pause’ in consumer spending confidence

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Households’ confidence in their spending power took a step backwards in April in the run-up to the General Election, a recent report has revealed.

The Lloyds Spending Power report had shown overall confidence at an all-time high in March as consumers became more confident with their own finances and in the country’s economy.

But the index reading fell back by three points to 155 in April as the General Election loomed.

People’s feelings towards their current and future financial situations levelled off during April, with political uncertainty potentially holding back confidence in people’s personal finances, their household finances and the country’s finances, which all fell back, the research found.

For the first time in 2015 so far, people’s confidence in their future situation has also fallen.

Lloyds said that people’s expected future spending remains “stable”.

Around two-thirds of people surveyed not expecting their spending habits to be different in six months’ time.

Despite the pause in the recent improvements seen to people’s confidence levels, households’ overall financial confidence still remained close to record high levels, according to the report, which started in early 2011.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures recently showed that inflation turned negative for the first time in more than half a century last month.

The Chancellor George Osborne hailed the ONS figures as “good news for family budgets”.

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) measure of inflation dipped to minus 0.1 per cent, the ONS said.

Economists broadly expect the latest figure to bounce back to a positive number for May rather than heralding a persistent spiral of falling prices.

The Lloyds survey asks around 2,000 bank account holders about their current and future spending habits.

The research also examine how consumer’s commitments affect their spending power.

Claire Garrod, head of personal current accounts at Lloyds Bank, said: “Spending power paused for breath in April, with the political uncertainty in the UK seeming to impact financial confidence, which dropped back compared to March.

“However, despite this backwards step, confidence remains at a very high level and has been on an upward trend in 2015.”

The report comes on the back of April’s Household Finance Index which suggested that household finances for Yorkshire’s “squeezed middle” are at their highest for six years. One in four earners in Yorkshire are paid below the Living Wage, which is £7.85 per hour outside London.

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