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Brexit uncertainty threatens consumer confidence

By Philip Smith

Concerns over job security and continued uncertainty about Brexit weakening confidence

UK consumer confidence dropped one percentage point to -9 per cent in the third quarter of 2019, and retailers have been warned to expect a further decline next year, according to research from Deloitte.

The UK unemployment rate currently stands at 3.8 per cent, the lowest since 1974. However, confidence around job opportunities and career progression fell by five points to -6 per cent in the quarter.

“Up to now we have seen a slowdown everywhere but in the job market and in the consumer economy. A decline in consumer confidence this quarter, combined with a fall in official unemployment figures, show that the period of remarkable resilience in jobs and earnings is coming to an end,” said Ian Stewart, chief economist at Deloitte.

UK legislators are being urged to end the prevarication over Brexit to instil a degree of stability into the economy and the job market. Sir Ian Cheshire, chairman of Barclays’ UK operations, told the BBC that business leaders wanted to see certainty and urged Parliament to approve the latest Withdrawal Agreement.

His comments come as the latest consumer tracker index from accountancy firm Deloitte shows consumer confidence is weakening.

“With Brexit cited as the biggest risk businesses face, the last quarter has also seen heightened concern over slowing growth in the UK and Eurozone and chief financial officers are tightening their purse strings in response,” he said.

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