Investor Alert

Jan. 21, 2021, 9:11 p.m. EST

U.K. consumer confidence wanes in January

By Xavier Fontdegloria

U.K. Consumer sentiment dipped in January after heightened restrictions were enforced across the country to contain the spread of the coronavirus, according to GfK's consumer-confidence index.

The indicator, complied by German market research firm GfK, fell two points from the previous month to minus 28 in January, matching the forecast from economists polled by The Wall Street Journal.

Consumer confidence in the U.K. has moved sideways since April, when it plunged on a standstill in activity owing to the first lockdown in spring.

The fall in consumer sentiment in January was driven mainly by households' more downbeat expectations of the general economic situation over the next 12 months, which fell nine points from that in December.

"Despite the widespread anticipation of a 'return to normal' with the ramp-up of the vaccination program, it is too early to deliver a jolt in the arm to U.K. consumer confidence," GfK Client Strategy Director Joe Staton said.

Four out of the five measures that make up the consumer-confidence index decreased from the previous month, while the remaining one increased.

In addition to the slump in economic expectations for the coming year, households' assessment of the general economic situation for the past year fell slightly in January, along with consumers' outlook on their personal financial situation over the coming year, and the major purchase index--which gauges demand among shoppers.

Despite a fall in the headline reading, the outlook on personal financial situation seems to be holding up and this is key for further recovery, Mr. Staton said.

"Amid widespread uncertainty over jobs and livelihoods, any decline in how we see our personal finances in the year to come would be a clear warning that the economic outlook will not improve any time soon," he said.

The survey polled 2,000 individuals between Jan. 4 and 13, as the country entered a new lockdown in an attempt to manage the public health crisis.

Write to Xavier Fontdegloria at xavier.fontdegloria@wsj.com

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