The UK citizen is a hydra-headed beast showing a different face depending on the matter in question. As a shopper, it is keeping the economy afloat, defying gloomy post-referendum auguries from the business class. Robust retail sales are exhibit A. On Monday came exhibit B, showing growing consumer credit from the British Bankers’ Association.
As a would-be homeowner, the mood is more cautious. Mortgage approvals have fallen three months on the trot to a 19-month low. In part, this reflects issues beyond Brexit, not least sheer affordability; the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors found bearish sentiment strongest in London, the priciest location. But consumer and mortgage lender may face different ways a while longer. A devil-may-care attitude can buoy spending while Brexit is still being worked out. It sits uneasily with buying a house, which demands borrower and lender look more than a few weeks ahead.
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