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Slight boost in UK consumer confidence lifts high street

THE UK saw a slight boost to consumer confidence this month, according to a new survey, as people became more hopeful about the state of the country's economy.

The reading published by GfK NOP increased by 1 point to minus 30 in September after three months of declines, although the level is still close to that which is associated with a recession.

The overall reading was boosted by an increase in confidence in both personal finances and the general economic situation over the next 12 months as well as the climate for major purchases.

Nick Moon, managing director of GfK NOP Social Research, said: "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.

"In fact, despite growing fears about the global economy, British consumers are feeling a little more hopeful about the state of the home economy."

The slight improvement comes despite a darkening outlook for the global economy with fears over the health of the US economy adding to the ongoing eurozone debt crisis.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) last week said the UK will see GDP grow 1.1pc in 2011, compared to estimates in its last World Economic Outlook report in April of 1.7pc.

A survey from the Nationwide last week revealed the UK riots and turbulence on world markets knocked consumer confidence in August.

The widespread looting in early August and stock market turmoil triggered by fears over global growth all damaged sentiment.

The retail sector has been a stand-out victim of the lack of consumer confidence with a number of high street chains falling into administration, while others roll-out store closures.

Mr Moon continued: "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."