Nationwide’s consumer confidence index rose two points in February from 41 to 43, its first rise since October 2008, despite worsening economic conditions over the month.
Confidence rose because of a slight increase in optimism about future economic and labour market conditions, according to the building society.
Of the 1,000 consumers surveyed, 19% thought conditions would be better in six months, against 17% in January. However, 43% thought they would be worse.
On employment, 65% thought there would be few jobs available in six months, compared with 18% who thought there would be “many” or “some”. A majority, 65%, thought household income would be the same in six months.
Confidence in the present situation dropped to 22, its eighth consecutive fall. Some 86% of consumers in February still described the current economic situation as “bad” and 64% said there were few jobs available.
However, sentiment about spending rose to 92 from 85 after remaining steady through December and January. In February 38% of consumers believed it was a good time to make a major purchase, such as a house or car.
Fionnuala Earley, the chief economist at Nationwide, said in a statement, “Spending confidence continues to be resilient, which could reflect the effect of sharp falls in interest rates on consumers’ disposable incomes, but is also likely to reflect significant discounts available.”
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