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Women are less optimistic about the UK economy and prospects for their own finances than men, according consumer research released this morning.

The findings could be significant for travel as research shows women are more likely than men to be the decision makers when it comes to household holiday purchases.

The poll of almost 1,200 UK adults by research firm TNS at the start of May found a general lift in consumer confidence, with 36% feeling the economy is doing better than a year ago. That compared with 10% in a poll 14 months ago.

However, the survey found women markedly less confident than men. Just 29% of women thought the UK economy was doing better this month than a year ago, compared with 44% of men.

Women aged 35-54 were even more negative, with just 23% believing the economy had improved. Only 16% of women in this age range rated Government handling of the economy as ‘good’ compared with 40% of all men.

The difference in sentiment was reflected in respondents’ confidence regarding their personal financial circumstances.

Almost one in three men in work (31%) said they expect a pay rise compared with one in five women (21%).

TNS described this as “a new development” noting: “When TNS last asked this question in March 2013, 26% of men and 23% of women expected a pay rise.”

Similarly, asked how well they could pay their household bills, 38% of women said it was harder to meet their monthly budget than a year ago, compared with 29% of men.

Asked about the outlook for the UK economy, 39% of men thought things would improve against 27% of women.

Michelle Harrison, chief executive of TNS BMRB, said: “This is a clear new trend and reflects the experience of day to day life that many women are experiencing.

“Their view of the economy is shaped by their ability to make their budget stretch in the way it used to.”

TNS conducted the online poll among 1,193 UK adults on May 1-6. The company conducts regular consumer surveys on behalf of Travel Weekly.