Consumer morale in Britain fell to a record low in October as fears about the euro crisis, rising unemployment and the state of the economy knocked confidence, a monthly survey by mortgage lender Nationwide showed on Thursday.
Nationwide's consumer confidence index dropped to 36 from 45 in September, the lowest since the survey began in May 2004.
A wave of disappointing economic news at home and ongoing uncertainty surrounding the Euro crisis have dealt a heavy blow to sentiment, said Nationwide's chief economist Robert Gardner.
The survey showed that consumers had become even more cautious about spending. Nearly half of consumers viewed it as a bad time to make a major purchase in October, compared to a quarter who viewed it as a good time to buy, Gardner said.
The findings bode ill for retailers' business during the crucial Christmas shopping period.
Consumers' reluctance to spend at a time when soaring prices are outrunning sluggish wage increases and unemployment is at a 17-year high has already been a major drag on the British economy, which teeters on the brink of recession.
On Wednesday, the Bank of England slashed its growth forecast for next year and flagged it may have to pump even more cash into the economy than the additional 75 billion pounds of quantitative easing it launched in early October.
(Reporting by Sven Egenter; Editing by Catherine Evans)