GfK’s Consumer Confidence Index decreased by one point in December 2018 to -14, reaching a five-year low. Three of the five measures used to calculate the overall score decreased – yet the Major Purchase Index, which measures people's willingness to buy big-ticket items, increased five points in December to +2, leaving it six points higher than it was in December 2017.   

Joe Staton, client strategy director at GfK, says: “At -14 [in December], UK consumers are ending 2018 on a pessimistic note with Christmas cheer in short supply. We are five points lower than this year’s opening score in January and were no higher than -7 this summer. This represents a more-than five-year low for the index which has bumped along in negative territory since 2016.

"The steep drop of six points for the outlook on the general economy in the coming year is the most telling data point [in December], with consumers clearly casting a vote of no-confidence in our immediate economic future. The uptick in the major purchases measure also might be no more than a last festive hurrah for retailers, the only sliver of comfort and joy amidst the gloom.

"In the face of ever-rising costs, and the threat of higher inflation combined with uncertainty around the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, it’s no surprise that consumers are in a chilly mood of despondency and putting on a glum face when they look at the prospects for 2019. Sad to say that an unhappy and uncertain New Year beckons despite good intentions from all points on the economic and political spectrum."