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U.K. Consumer Confidence Hits All-Time Low but Retail Sales Bounce

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By Geoffrey Smith

Investing.com -- U.K. consumer confidence sank to a new all-time low this month as the country's cost-of-living crisis took an ever-tighter grip on the public mood.

Market research firm GfK said confidence is now at a lower ebb than during the 2008 financial crisis or at the depths of the pandemic two years ago, despite the fact that unemployment is at a 50-year low, due to galloping inflation.

Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey told parliament this week that there was little it could do to stop inflation peaking at over 10% later this year, citing the surge in global prices for energy and food.

"Nothing on the economic horizon shows a reason for optimism any time soon," said GfK client strategy director Joe Straton.

However, the pound edged higher in early trading in London, after official data showed a surprising bounce in retail sales in April. Both overall and core sales rose 1.4% on the month, in contrast to expectations for a further 0.2% decline. The Office for National Statistics noted, however, that on a three-month/three-month comparison, sales were still down 0.3%, extending a decline that started last summer.

By 2:55 AM ET (0655 GMT), the pound was up 0.1% at $1.2475.

The ONS said that the rise was chiefly the result of higher spending on alcohol and tobacco in supermarkets, while stronger clothing sales lifted overall online sales by 3.7%. While much about consumer spending has reverted to its pre-pandemic pattern, the ONS noted that the shift to online shopping remained intact. Online sales now account for over 27% of the total, well above their pre-pandemic level of 19.9%.

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