The nation will get a snapshot of the state of its ailing economy on Thursday as a clutch of consumer-facing companies including Virgin Media and William Hill give updates amid fears of a downturn in the fourth quarter.

Virgin Media, which has the country's fastest broadband connections and also sells TV and telephony services, is under pressure to show an improved performance, after it reported a surprise loss of 36,000 cable customers in the second quarter.

The company has said it is focussing on signing up higher value customers, who will take several products and pay more for them, much like its rival BSkyB which has focussed in recent quarters on cross-selling products to existing customers rather than attracting new ones.

William Hill, the biggest bookmaker, is expected to report lower third-quarter revenues, with a decline in takings at its retail business being only partially offset by growth in its online business where the popularity of new services such as in-play betting has kept demand resilient.

Other companies reporting on Thursday include nightclub operator Luminar, which has issued a clutch of profit warnings through the downturn as youth unemployment and the wider squeeze on spending kept would-be clubbers at home.

Car dealer Inchcape, transport group Go-Ahead and publisher Bloomsbury are also due to give updates.

Economic growth in the second quarter of this year was unexpectedly revised down to 0.1 percent, casting further doubt on the strength of its stuttering economic recovery.

Bank of England policymaker Martin Weale said on Monday that the economy may contract in the final quarter of this year as the euro crisis may hit business and consumer morale.

A recent survey by retailer Asda said families were about 60 pounds worse off a month than they were a year ago as rising energy, motoring and food costs squeezed finances.

GlaxoSmithKline said on Wednesday that consumers were thinking twice before making impulse purchases.

We are buying a little bit less impulse products, the kind of products you pick up in the garage after you fill you car up with petrol, so products like Lucozade, Chief Executive Andrew Witty said.

Retail sales had a surprise lift, however, in September, boosted by sales of laptops and video games.

Consumers are also reluctant to sacrifice their mobile phones, although many are moving to long-term contracts, according to Everything Everywhere, the biggest mobile operator.

Customers are prepared to move up to a contract -- we see a big migration -- but they are certainly seeking value deals within the portfolio of pay monthly, Olaf Swantee, who heads the British T-Mobile and Orange brand-owner, said on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Matt Scuffham, Paul Sandle and Michelle Martin. Editing by Jane Merriman)