Britons' confidence in the nation's economic prospects, already on the wane in the fall, recovered marginally in the run-up to the Christmas holiday according to a survey carried out for the European Commission.

The study among a representative sample of 2062 individuals aged 16+ by market research firm Martin Hamblin GfK, showed December's headline index figure up by just one point from the previous month's minus six.

Consumers had also become more upbeat about their personal finances over the preceding twelve month -- but still leery about spending on major purchases even in the throes of the seasonal spendfest.

The survey's main findings …

Personal Finances
Perceptions over the last twelve months have improved slightly to 0 from a recent low of –5 in October.

General Economic Situation
Confidence over Britain's general economic situation over the last twelve months and expectations for the year ahead have both increased by two points from –24 to –22 and –18 to –16 respectively. Both these measures are higher than in the same period in 2002.

Major Purchases
Views of the climate for making major purchases have declined from +6 to +5 in December - 10 points lower than in December 2002.

Following November’s rise in interest rates consumers still consider it a good time to save, with only a slight fall from +11 to +10 in December. This compares to a level of –9 this time last year. Late 2003 levels on this question are the best since May 2001.

Data sourced from: Daily Research News Online; additional content by WARC staff