Britons a bit more upbeat on finances but worried about economy, GfK says

FILE PHOTO: Pedestrians walk over the Millennium Bridge in view of skyscrapers in the financial district in London, Britain February 17, 2020. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

LONDON (Reuters) – British consumers turned a bit more confident about their personal finances in August, but they were increasingly worried about the outlook for the economy with unemployment expected to rise sharply, a survey showed on Friday.

The headline GfK consumer confidence index held at -27, the same level it has been since early July.

That represented its joint-highest reading since the coronavirus lockdown began in March, but is not far above its lowest level in a decade that was touched in May.

“Circumspect consumers report they are more confident about their personal financial situation over the next year but the uptick from zero to +1 does not amount to much,” Joe Staton, GfK’s client strategy director, said.

“This can change quickly when furlough ends and the inevitable redundancies start.”

Around one in eight workers remain on the government’s job retention subsidy scheme which has already cost 35 billion pounds and is due to close at the end of October.

A measure of how consumers view the economy over the next 12 months fell to -42 from -41 in July, GfK said.

Britain’s economy shrank by more than 20% in the April-June period and the Bank of England thinks it will take until the end of next year for it to regain its pre-pandemic size.

Some private-sector economists say it could take a lot longer than that, with the average forecast in a Reuters poll on Thursday showing that it would take at last two years for the economy to return to the same size it was at the end of 2019.

Reporting by William Schomberg, editing by David Milliken

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