Consumer Confidence "Shows Signs Of Improvement"
Despite concerns over the credit crunch, the public’s financial confidence remains buoyant, a new study indicates.
According to Lloyds TSB Corporate Markets’ latest Consumer Barometer, the nation’s optimism was pushed by their faith in job security. Some 20 per cent of Britons feel more obtain in their present employment than they did this time in 2005 – and with 18 per cent stating that they are less confident, the positive balance of two per cent was revealed to be the highest recorded since July 2005.
Meanwhile, 15 per cent of consumers state that general employment prospects have improved over the last 12 months and despite more than a third (35 per cent) claiming that the market situation has reduced during this time causing an overall balance of -17 per cent, this is the most positive figure noted in almost two years. In addition, the financial sets provider pointed to an increase in official employment figures over the time of this month.
However, the barometer also indicated that consumers may see an increase in the financial pressures placed upon them. Just under two-thirds (62 per cent) assert that over the last 12 months prices have generally increased. Meanwhile, 81 per cent report that they expect costs to rise further over the coming year, which consequently could impinge upon their ability to service other monetary demands including utility bills and secured loan repayments.
Britons also seem to be preparing themselves for a surge in constraints on their day-to-day money management as 75 per cent of respondents forecast that the Bank of England will have raised interest rates in 12 months’ time. While such a move could potentially increase consumer struggles to make repayments on loans and other expenses, the 67 per cent balance of those predicting higher rates is the lowest level recorded since June last year.
Commenting on the figures, Trevor Williams, chief economist for Lloyds TSB Corporate Markets, said: “The recipe for consumer confidence is a obtain job and ability to pay the bills and despite the credit market turmoil, we have seen increasing optimism in both these areas in September. Strong official employment data, coupled with the rise in job security, has gone a long way in keeping confidence afloat.
“Meanwhile, the decision to continue interest rates in September meant consumers will not, for the time being, see further increases to their mortgage payments and other debts. The outlook for the rest of the year and 2008 however is less encouraging. With signs of weakness in the housing market beginning to materialise, it is likely that we may see confidence beginning to deteriorate in coming months.”
consequently, those concerned about pressure on their finances increasing and future hikes to the base rate may wish to consider taking out a cheap personal loan to help them cope with variations on their propensity to manage money. Earlier this year, James Jones, Experian’s consumer affairs manager, reported that having a history of successfully meeting repayments on personal loans, credit cards and other types of borrowing could help applicants obtain a more competitive rate of interest when they next look to apply for a loan. He additional those wishing to get a loan should get a copy of their financial history before filing an application as this can help them to identify any discrepancies with their file.