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UK consumer confidence hits record levels

Published:  04 November, 2015

UK consumer confidence has risen to its highest level ever, according to the latest quarterly figures released by global insight provider, Nielsen.

The UK Consumer Confidence Index was up four points, from 99 in the second quarter of 2015 to 103 in the third quarter.

It is the seventh consecutive rise in a row.

Confidence is at its highest level since Nielsen began its Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions in 2005.

It is only the second time that the UK index has risen above 100. A score over 100 indicates optimism, below 100, pessimism.

The last time UK confidence exceeded 100 was in the first quarter of 2006 when Tony Blair was prime minister.

The buoyancy of UK consumer sentiment was evident in a range of other findings from Nielsen too.

The percentage of UK consumers feeling positive about making purchases rose five points to 49%. Those feeling positive about their personal finances rose three points to 56%.

Both figures are the highest on record for the UK.

Fewer consumers than ever are also changing spending patterns to save money. At 51%, it is at its lowest level since the question first appeared in 2009.

Britons who say they've changed spending habits to save money dropped 5 points to 51% - the lowest proporotion ever.

Steve Smith, managing director of Nielsen UK & Ireland said: "Confidence moving into positive territory for the first time in nearly a decade is certainly a landmark moment.

"Overall, the UK economy is in better shape than most other European countries, as unemployment rates are down and wage inflation is rising faster than general inflation.

"Shoppers are also seeing the benefit of lower fuel and energy costs, and households are redirecting spending proportionately to non-food items such as phones, cars and holidays.

"Within food and grocery, the categories with the strongest volume growth continue to be the more 'expandable' categories of beverages, confectionery and snacks, which are typically driven by promotions and branded innovation."

Growing consumer optimism in the drinks category is borne out in celebratory purchases for perceived luxury items, such as Champagne.

"In our Champagne Category Report 2015 we highlighted a number of interesting facts which supports this increase," Paul Beavis, managing director UK and international for Champagne Lanson, said.

"By communicating to the customer that Champagne is a special product in terms of taste and quality - and why it commands a price premium - it allows them to make informed decisions about what they drink and when.

Growth relies on enabling customers to recognise Champagne occasions and for us to support customers to simply and easily find their brand of choice.

We have identified massive opportunities to drive Champagne occasions and demonstrated that it is possible to create new and unseasonal occasions around specific events - and not only at Christmas and the festive season!"