LONDON (Reuters) - British consumers are their most upbeat since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, buoyed by growing optimism about the economy as lockdown restrictions are lifted, a survey showed on Friday.
The GfK Consumer Confidence Index improved to -9 in May from -15 in April, matching its level in March 2020 before the full force of the coronavirus pandemic hit the country.
The index has been rising since January as Britain rolled out Europe's fastest COVID vaccines programme.
"The financial mood of the nation has bounced back to its pre-lockdown figure of minus 9 this month, meaning confidence has made up all the ground lost to COVID-19," Joe Staton, client strategy director at GfK, said.
A measure of optimism about the outlook for the economy over the next 12 months jumped by 15 percentage points and there was a five-point improvement in a gauge of how willing consumers are to make a major purchase.
The Bank of England is watching closely for how much is spent from savings that many richer households built up over three lockdowns in the past year, as it assesses the need for keeping its huge economic stimulus programme in place.
GfK conducted its survey of 2,000 people between May 4 and May 13.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has relaxed restrictions on retail and hospitality and is hoping to lift the last constraints on the economy by late June.
(Reporting by William Schomberg, editing by David Milliken)