Shrugging off the threat of war and heavy falls in the stock markets, British consumers are increasingly optimistic about their personal financial prospects, according to a new survey from Experian Business Strategies.

Of the 6,024 respondents, 33% believe their finances will improve over the next twelve months, while just 13% think they will deteriorate. Such an upbeat outlook is particularly rife in Wales, though in contrast Londoners have become less confident than the average Briton.

“This buoyant optimism,” declared Experian director Richard Holt, “is reflected in the high proportion of those who think now is a good time to make a major purchase like a car, computer, TV set, washing machine, fridge or freezer.”

Holt believes that spending – fuelled by a 38-year low in interest rates – will rise 4.7% in 2002, faster than the 4.5% growth of last year.

However, despite the increasing optimism surrounding personal finances, Britons are paradoxically becoming more concerned about the state of the economy in general. As a result, Holt expects spending growth to slow in coming months.

Data sourced from: BBC Online Business News (UK); additional content by WARC staff