The latest survey from polling firm Gfk showed the biggest fall in UK consumer confidence in more than 45 years last month, as the government ‘lockdown’ on businesses impacted household sentiment.
From a reading of minus 9 in mid-March, the GfK survey plummeted to minus 34 at month-end with confidence ‘falling off the cliff’ in the last fortnight according to the survey commentary.
Every measure surveyed in March was lower than the February reading, with the ‘general economic situation’ index for the last 12 months falling from minus 23 to minus 40 points and the ‘personal financial situation’ index falling from plus two to minus four points.
More concerning is the drop in the forward-looking indices, with expectations for the general economy over the next 12 months falling from minus 27 to minus 56 points and expectations for peoples’ personal financial situation falling from plus 3 to minus 17 points.
According to the survey, despite record grocery sales and a spike in purchases of freezers, TVs and computer equipment as people got ready to work from home, the Major Purchase Index fell a whopping 50 points, ‘ a stark picture for some parts of the retail industry in the short to medium term.’
Over the weekend there was news that floral design retailer Cath Kidston had called in the administrators, while Philip Green-backed Arcadia Group is facing a winding-up order after it cancelled orders from suppliers. The group has also reportedly refused to pay rent on many of its 550 stores.
Meanwhile department store Debenhams was reported to be close to calling in administrators for the second time in a year. The store chain was also reported to have missed this month's pension top-up payment which had previously been agreed with the scheme's trustees.