Omicron and inflation chip away at UK consumer confidence – GfK

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People queue outside Hamleys toy shop on Regent Street, amid the COVID-19 outbreak in London

LONDON – People in Britain turned a bit more pessimistic this month, after the emergence of the fast-spreading Omicron coronavirus variant and inflation worries hit spending plans, a survey showed on Friday.

The GfK Consumer Confidence Index dipped to -15 having risen in November for the first time in four months to -14.

Joe Staton, GfK’s client strategy director, said people were slightly less confident about their personal finances and the economy over the next 12 months, making them less inclined to make major purchases before Christmas.

“We end 2021 on a depressing note and it looks like it will be a bleak midwinter for UK consumer confidence, possibly with new COVID curbs, and little likelihood of any real uplift in the first months of 2022,” he said.

The Bank of England raised interest rates on Thursday for the first time since slashing them at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic struck in early 2020, as it sought to head off growing inflation pressures.

Britain’s headline inflation rate hit a decade-high 5.1% in the 12 months to November.

The GfK survey of 2,000 people was conducted between Dec. 1 and Dec. 13.

(Reporting by William Schomberg, editing by David Milliken)

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