Consumer confidence has fallen to the same level as when Northern Rock was nationalised in early 2008.

Sentiment slipped two points in May to -18, the Gfk NOP Consumer Confidence Index showed.

It was the fourth month in a row that the study, compiled on behalf of the European Commission, recorded a decline. However, the index is still nine points higher than in May 2009.

People’s confidence in their personal financial situation over the next 12 months dropped five points to -3, which is two points lower than in May 2009.

Their confidence in the general economic situation over the next year plunged eight points to -9, seven points higher than a year ago.

Attitudes towards making major purchases fell one point to -21, which is one point up on last May.

Gfk NOP social research managing director Nick Moon said: “With considerable cuts in public spending, plus higher taxes on the way, it is hard to see the confidence index improving significantly in the near future.”