LONDON Confidence among consumers improved this month for the first time since May, after shoppers' took a more positive view of the economic outlook, a survey showed on Friday.
The GfK NOP consumer confidence index rose to -30 in September from August's 4-month low of -31. The reading was better than expectations for a drop to -33, but is still 10 points below its level this time last year.
"The index's one-point rise this month is not statistically significant, but it is psychologically important as it halts the decline of recent months," said GfK Managing Director Nick Moon.
The component gauging peoples' outlook for the general economic situation in the next 12 months rose to -27 from -31.
Likewise, the outlook for personal finances improved slightly to -10 from -11 and the climate for major purchases also recovered, reaching -28 from -31.
"With economic growth effectively stalled at the moment, retailers would welcome more high street activity, although if consumers are buying German fridges and Japanese cars, this would create quite different problems for the UK economy," Moon said.
The GfK data could potentially presage a levelling out in the pace of decline for other British retail indices. Figures from the Confederation of British Industry released earlier this week showed retail sales dropped at their fastest pace in 16 months in September. Stores expected little improvement in October as struggling consumers clamp down on spending.
The GfK survey was based on a sample of around 2,000 people and conducted between September 2 and September 11 on behalf of the European Commission.