March 18, 2019 / 9:40 AM / 3 months ago

Britons turn more cautious about big spending as Brexit nears - IHS Markit

FILE PHOTO - A shopper checks her shopping list in a supermarket in London, Britain April 11, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall

LONDON (Reuters) - British households were the most downbeat about their finances in over a year this month and the approach of Brexit made them more cautious about making major outlays, a survey published on Monday showed.

IHS Markit’s Household Finance Index slipped slightly to 43.3, its lowest since February 2018, adding to a series of falls since August last year.

Markit said households were showing some resilience to the chaotic Brexit process unfolding in Britain’s parliament.

Respondents said they said they were a bit less worried about their job security and about the outlook for their financial wellbeing.

The lowest unemployment rate since 1975, rising wages and weak inflation are helping to offset the uncertainty about Brexit for many people in Britain.

But the appetite among households for making major purchases, for example on cars or holidays, fell at the fastest pace since September 2017, Markit said.

“A sharp drop in UK households’ appetite for major purchases was the main signal that Brexit uncertainty had some impact on consumer spending,” Tim Moore, associate director at IHS Markit, said.

Similarly, many companies are cutting back on investment.

The Markit survey of 1,500 people was conducted between March 7 and 12, before parliament voted on March 14 in favour of Prime Minister Theresa May seeking a delay to the scheduled Brexit date of March 29.

Writing by William Schomberg

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