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Britons a bit more upbeat on finances but worried about economy, GfK says

Fri, 21st Aug 2020 00:01

LONDON, Aug 21 (Reuters) - British consumers turned a bit
more confident about their personal finances in August, but they
were increasingly worried about the outlook for the economy with
unemployment expected to rise sharply, a survey showed on
Friday.

The headline GfK consumer confidence index held at -27, the
same level it has been since early July.

That represented its joint-highest reading since the
coronavirus lockdown began in March, but is not far above its
lowest level in a decade that was touched in May.

"Circumspect consumers report they are more confident about
their personal financial situation over the next year but the
uptick from zero to +1 does not amount to much," Joe Staton,
GfK's client strategy director, said.

"This can change quickly when furlough ends and the
inevitable redundancies start."

Around one in eight workers remain on the government's job
retention subsidy scheme which has already cost 35 billion
pounds ($46 billion) and is due to close at the end of October.

A measure of how consumers view the economy over the next 12
months fell to -42 from -41 in July, GfK said.

Britain's economy shrank by more than 20% in the April-June
period and the Bank of England thinks it will take until the end
of next year for it to regain its pre-pandemic size.

Some private-sector economists say it could take a lot
longer than that, with the average forecast in a Reuters poll on
Thursday showing that it would take at last two years for the
economy to return to the same size it was at the end of 2019.
($1 = 0.7621 pounds)
(Reporting by William Schomberg, editing by David Milliken)

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