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Consumer confidence dampened

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Consumer confidence took a sharp downturn during April, new figures have indicated.

In its latest survey, market research group GfK NOP found that all five of the measures of consumer confidence it usually tracks slipped back in the month.

The index slumped by a further three points, sinking to -31, compared with the -16 recorded at the same time last year.

This is just the third time in the history of the index, which dates back 37 years, that consumer confidence has dropped below -30.

The most worrying decline was in the confidence people have in their personal finances. For the periods covering the past year and the 12 months to come, this slid by four points to -23 and -14 respectively.

Faith in the general economy fared little better. April saw another three points shaved off people’s confidence about the broad economic situation during the past year, slipping to -57. Optimism about the coming year dipped by one point to -30, a huge 29 points down on expectations 12 months ago.

Nick Moon, managing director of GfK NOP Social Research, said: “Coming after six months of stagnant economic growth, this is a significant drop – one that is bad news for the government and bad news for the economy.

“It suggests that the attempts to spur growth in last month’s budget have failed to convince the public, and this may well be sorely felt on the already beleaguered high street.

“It is particularly striking that all five areas of the index fell this month, pointing towards growing gloom as we head into summer. These figures must make the possibility of a double dip recession increasingly real.”