When the Chancellor stands up to give his Autumn Statement on Thursday, he will be reassured that the economy and consumer views are more positive than this time last year. But Which? consumer insight shows that the battle isn't yet won. These five charts taken from our latest survey of over 2000 people show the challenges facing consumers. They frame the need for a consumer-focussed Autumn Statement.
Consumers are more positive about the UK economy than at the last Autumn Statement, but confidence in their own situation is still low.
Looking at the trends we see that, over the course of 2013, there has been seen a sharp rise in the proportion of people expecting the economy to get better over the next 12 months. Confidence over the prospects for personal finances has only increased slightly.
In fact, for the first time since our survey began, more people now think the economy will improve over than next 12 months, than think it will get worse. In contrast, while feelings about personal finances have increased recently, they are still negative overall.
Taking a look at spending power shows why. Our latest survey showed that just one in six people thought that the recovery had fed through into their living standards. And the Which? Spending Power Index is still below its level at the start of 2008.
Combined with a continued rise in the price of essentials, it is hardly surprising that the Which? squeezometer shows that consumers continue to feel the squeeze:
It is clearly good news that the UK economy appears to have turned the corner. But until families start to feel the impact in their lives, the recovery will seem illusive to them. These charts demonstrate the Chancellor's dilemma: the economy is improving but people just aren't feeling it. That's why the Autumn Statement needs to help heal household finances, as well as the UK economy's.
Note on our data: Populus, on behalf of Which?, interviewed a representative sample of 2126 UK adults online between 22 and 24 November 2013. Data were weighted to be demographically representative of all UK adults. Populus is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.