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Brexit and eurozone worries weigh on UK consumers: GfK survey

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British consumers remain their least confident in more than a year as they worry about the country's European Union referendum and the eurozone's unresolved economic problems, a survey showed on Thursday.

[LONDON] British consumers remain their least confident in more than a year as they worry about the country's European Union referendum and the eurozone's unresolved economic problems, a survey showed on Thursday.

Market research firm GfK said its overall consumer sentiment indicator stood at zero in March, unchanged from February and its joint lowest level since December 2014.

Britain's consumers have been the driver of the country's economic recovery over the past three years. "Despite good economic headlines about low inflation, interest rates and prices in the shops, concerns about Brexit and the ongoing euro zone crisis appear to be hitting home," Joe Staton, head of market dynamics at GfK, said.

Optimism among consumers about the economy over the next 12 months was 18 points lower than in March 2015 at -12.

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Britain's finance minister George Osborne has warned repeatedly that the country faces a "dangerous cocktail" of risks from the world economy.

Economists say the government's decision to hold the EU referendum is another, home-grown, risk which is likely to hurt confidence in the run-up to the vote on June 23. If voters decide to leave the bloc, Britain will probably suffer a hit to growth, at least in the short term, most economists say.

The GfK survey showed consumers were less willing to spend on big-ticket items than in February.

GfK carried out the survey of 2,002 people between March 1 and March 16 on behalf of the European Commission.

REUTERS

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