Deep gloom descended on British consumers last month - gloom about the economy, gloom about their own prospects of getting a pay rise.
But a growing minority thinks this is a good time to go bargain-hunting for a house or a car.
Nationwide’s headline consumer confidence index fell sharply between May and June with 53 per cent of those questioned saying they think the economic situation will be worse in six months, the highest number this year and 24 per cent more than in June last year.
Despite that, worries about jobs remain fairly muted. Half the sample still say that either “many” or “some” jobs are available, double the number who think they are scarce.
Looking six months ahead, the number expecting relatively plentiful jobs fall to 37 per cent, but that is up from 35 per cent in May and 32 per cent in April. It also still outnumbers by three points a growing proportion who fear there will be “not many” or “few” jobs in six months.
The unexpected finding is that saying this is a good time to make a major purchase jumped to 18 per cent from 14 per cent in May and the highest number since last July, the month before the US sub-prime crisis broke.
“This seems counter-intuitive in the current climate, but may be reflecting a perception of opportunities for discounts in a buyers’ market,” said Nationwide’s chief economist, Fionnuala Earley.
It contrasts with a dwindling number who think this a good time to buy household goods. The number expecting their own household income to rise over the next six months fell by five points to 16 per cent, 12 per cent fewer than this time last year. An overwhelming 69 per cent expect their income to stay the same, up sharply from 62 per cent in the two previous months.