Consumer confidence remained broadly unchanged for the third month in a row during November as people remained upbeat about the future economic situation, research has shown.
Nationwide’s consumer confidence index held steady at 73 during the month, leaving it only slightly below its recent high of 74 reached in September.
People’s confidence has been improving steadily throughout the year after the index hit a record low of 45 in January.
The recent stabilisation has been driven by people feeling more upbeat about the future, with only 14 per cent expecting the economy to be worse in six months’ time than it is now, the lowest level recorded since the index began in May 2004.
But people are slightly less optimistic about the present situation, with the proportion of people thinking the economy is currently in bad shape rising to 70 per cent during the month, while 67 per cent said they thought there were currently few jobs available.
Martin Gahbauer, Nationwide’s chief economist, said: “Confidence remained stable for a second consecutive month in November, suggesting that consumer sentiment is holding steady at the end of a volatile year for the index.
“In the last few months, consumer confidence has lost some of the upward momentum evident earlier in the year and this is largely due to ongoing pessimism about the current economic situation rather than expectations for the future.
“The downbeat assessment of the present situation is consistent with recent news that the UK has been slower to come out of recession than other countries.”
The spending index increased by two points to 106 during November, following a slight increase in the number of people who think it is a good time to make a major purchase, such as a house or car, while the proportion who thought it was a good time to buy household goods remained unchanged.
The number of people who think it is a bad time to make a major purchase fell to 34 per cent during the month, the lowest level since April 2006.
Consumers’ expectations for house prices moderated slightly during November, with people now expecting the cost of property to rise by one per cent during the coming six months, compared with predictions of a 1.5 per cent increase in October.
TNS-RI questioned 1,000 people between October 19 and November 22.