The rise in consumer confidence levels slowed in April as new Covid-19 variants and economic worries dampened the reopening of stores and hospitality.

Consumer confidence increased by just one point overall to -15 in April compared with March, showing marginal signs of improvement as restrictions ease.

This was nineteen points above consumer confidence levels at the height of lockdown in April last year, which stood at -34, according to the GfK Consumer Confidence Barometer.

The slight increase was boosted by consumer confidence in the general economic situation over the next year, which jumped six points to -11 – 45 points higher than in April 2020.

Confidence surrounding consumers’ own personal finances flatlined, however, as news surrounding new variants of the coronavirus spread.

Feelings around consumers’ personal financial situation over the last 12 months dropped one point to -3, while the same measure for the next 12 months remained the same at 10.

Consumers also indicated that they would be less keen to make big purchases in the near future. The major purchase index dropped one point to -12 when it had jumped eight points between February and March.

GfK client strategy director Joe Staton said: “Confidence has edged up one point in April with consumers taking a more guarded view on the future. This clear trend of growing confidence reflects the forecast of a rebound for our economy during the second half of the year.

“The improvement in the consumer mood since January is welcome, but the pandemic has hit household finances hard and, on the road ahead, we will still see concerns over new variants, rising inflation and the debt overhang.

“Nevertheless, there’s every chance that as the recovery gains momentum and the numbers get stronger, confident consumers will continue to spend and drive the wheels of UK finances into the summer and beyond.”