CONSUMER confidence plumbed near-record lows in December, as rising unemployment and the Eurozone crisis took their toll on sentiment.
Nationwide’s consumer confidence index hit 38 last month – well below its long-run average of 77 and barely above its lowest ever score of 36, seen in October 2011.
Confidence remains 17 points below the level seen in December 2010.
Nationwide’s spending index held up relatively well at 77, with household purchases staying strong.
However, the expectations index fell from 55 in November to 50 last month as worries grew over the state of the economy in 2012.
“In December concerns over the economy and labour market conditions were likely to have been compounded by the intensifying Eurozone crisis,” said Nationwide’s chief economist Robert Gardner.
“However, there are some positive developments on the horizon. As we move into 2012, inflation should continue to fall back, while interest rates are expected to remain at their current all time low of 0.5 per cent throughout the year. This should help to ease the squeeze on household budgets and help to lift spirits in the coming months.”