U.K. consumer confidence plummets amid lockdown
U.K. consumer confidence plummeted in the last two weeks of March in the biggest drop ever recorded as the nation entered a state of lockdown in an attempt to slow the rapid spread of the coronavirus.
An index of consumer confidence gathered by market research firm GfK fell by 25 points to minus 34. It was the index's lowest reading since February 2009 and the biggest single drop in the index's history, which stretches back as far as 1974.
Consumer sentiment nosedived as Britons feared a sharp decline in their financial situation and the economy. A subindex gauging consumers' expectations about their personal finances in the next 12 months fell 20 points to minus 17 and another, on their views about the state of the economy in the year ahead, fell 29 points to minus 56. In a worrying sign for retailers, a gauge of consumers' likelihood to make major purchases slumped 50 points to minus 52.
This was the second reading of U.K. consumer confidence for March produced by GfK. The first, based on surveys conducted in the first two weeks of the month, showed a small drop in consumer sentiment as concern over the virus grew. Sentiment fell two points in that period to minus nine.
The latest surveys took place after the government rolled out a nationwide lockdown that bans residents from leaving their homes other than in essential circumstances, and ordered the closure of all bars, pubs, restaurants and other businesses deemed nonessential.
As of Friday morning, there were more than 33,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the U.K. as well as more than 2,900 known deaths from the virus.
GfK surveyed 2,000 adults between March 16 and March 27 and produced the index on behalf of the European Commission.