Consumer confidence has hit an all-time low, fuelled by the fallout from the eurozone crisis and intense pressures on household budgets, a report found today.
The Nationwide Consumer Confidence Index, which is based on a monthly survey, found that confidence fell for the fifth month in a row in October to a new rock bottom of 36 points.
This is well below the long-running average of 78, while consumer expectations also reached their lowest ever reading of 48, falling by 14 points last month.
Just 3% of consumers described the current economic situation as "good" and only 13% expect it to improve over the next six months.
Robert Gardner, Nationwide's chief economist, said: "Consumer confidence continued to slide in October, falling by nine points to a new all-time low of 36.
"The index has now fallen for five months in a row, leaving it languishing five points below the previous low of 41 recorded in February this year.
"The confidence index, which began in May 2004, is now more than 40 points below its long-run average of 78."
The latest index was released the day after the Bank of England forecast a heightened risk of a double-dip recession and paved the way for another round of emergency measures.
Youth unemployment also reached a "truly shocking" milestone of more than a million yesterday, the worst total since comparable records began in 1992.
The index included 1,000 people from the UK population.
Nationwide found that the downbeat mood extended to the housing market, with consumers expecting house prices to fall by 0.6% over the next six months.
Mr Gardner said factors holding back confidence included the wave of disappointing economic news and ongoing uncertainty following the eurozone crisis.
He said: "Pressures on household budgets have also intensified, with underlying wage growth running at less than half the rate of inflation and the jobs market showing renewed signs of weakness."