Consumer confidence held steady in December but, in doing so, remained mired at a 12-month low.
The monthly GfK NOP consumer confidence index registered -21, two points lower than for the same period a year ago.
Confidence in personal finances over the coming 12 months fell as did confidence in the performance of the economy for the next year.
Nick Moon, managing director of GfK NOP Social Research, said: “At the moment consumer confidence is being propped up by one thing: a belief that the run-up to Christmas and the VAT hike is a good time for big-ticket retail purchases. This element of the index has distorted the overall index to make it appear static when in fact it is teetering on the brink.
“Every other measure has fallen and without this one positive, consumer confidence would have fallen to its lowest level in over a year. Of course, the real test will come in January when festive spending ceases and the VAT increase comes in. Then we will finally see the full impact of how consumers are reacting to the first wave of austerity measures.”