Consumer confidence flags

Worries over job security and wages prompted another decline in consumer optimism in April.

The Nationwide’s consumer confidence index slid by two points during the month, down to a mark of 43.

This was just four points above the all-time low recorded in February and a significant fall of 32 points on the same period a year ago.

The main concern for businesses would have been the five-point decline in the spending index. Consumers reported a reluctance to spend as wages continue to be squeezed by low pay settlements and the rate of inflation, and as fears of job losses persist.

There appears widespread anxieties, too, over the current state of the economy – 69 per cent of respondents judged it to be bad – and doubts as to the rate of the recovery – 39 per cent believed the ecoomy would still be bad in six months’ time.

Robert Gardner, chief economist at the Nationwide, said: “Consumer confidence remained subdued in April and continues to hover precariously close to the record low seen in February.

“Clearly, consumers are still feeling downbeat about the current situation, and there is little to suggest that they expect things to improve much over the coming months.”