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Why are consumers so mixed in their views on the future?

If anything, the last six months has shown how difficult it is to forecast the future direction of the UK economy with any certainty. Consumer spending has on the whole fallen sharply over the last few months yet there were pockets when it appeared a recovery may just be around the corner. However, today's survey from the CBI suggests that the UK high street is again suffering from a slump in sales and there are fears of more bankruptcies and companies going out of business.

It seems as though consumers, and investors alike, are concerned about the mixed headlines in the press regarding potential green shoots of recovery and then more downbeat statements suggesting that the banking system is still in trouble. There is also significant concern that UK unemployment could power through 2 million in the short term and possibly peak at just over 3.2 million. This would cause a severe drag on any potential recovery in the short to medium term and also affect consumer confidence and ultimately consumer spending.

Confidence is the key to the recovery of the UK economy although when it will improve remains to be seen.

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