Brits have confidence in sunshine

Wednesday 15th Jun 2011 by theWeather Club

It might not seem like it to those who are still trying to work out what day of the week it is, but for retailers and those whose livelihood depends on consumers the recent glut of bank holiday weekends and the warmest April on record have worked wonders.

In a survey carried out by Nationwide building society, researchers reported one of its biggest-ever monthly rises in the consumer confidence – from 43 points in early April to 55 points today. Coming after a record low of 40 points in February this year the 11-point leap is one of the greatest since the survey began in 2004, and takes the consumer confidence index to its highest level since Christmas.

Nevertheless Nationwide warned consumers had yet to recover the optimism they demonstrated this time last year, when the confidence index rested reassuringly at 64 points. As the society's chief economist Robert Gardner pointed out, while the cheery combination of sunshine, consecutive bank holidays and a royal romance invigorated spending in May, it did not prevent the index from being " well below the historical average."

"It is too early to say whether consumer confidence is in a sustained recovery," he explained, adding that such progress was unlikely to be felt by the British public until real improvements in employment and wages or a fall in inflation could be seen in their take home pay. "Recent announcements of large domestic energy price hikes are likely to dampen consumer mood," Gardner said, and would put household budgets remained under "significant pressure".

For the time being however the sunshine spending sprees continue, with the spending index also rising to a five month high and more consumers expected to spend money over the coming months.