This second consecutive rise puts the index at 80, its highest level since January 2008, and almost double the level recorded during the same period last year. The present situation index rose four points to 27 as a result of the improved sentiment around the current employment situation.
Consumers are also more optimistic about the future with the expectations index reaching 115, its highest level since the survey started in 2004.
Martin Gahbauer, Nationwide’s chief economist, said: “Following a small dip at the end of 2009, consumers have started this year in a more optimistic fashion. A strong influencing factor behind this uplift is likely to be the news that the UK has come out of its longest recession on record.”
But he added that consumers are perhaps feeling the pinch in their spending power – consumer confidence in spending fell four points to 93 in February after a strong rally in 2009.
Gahbauer said: “We may now be seeing the effects of the withdrawal of government driven incentives, such as the stamp duty holiday and lower VAT, impact on the index.”