Consumer confidence fell in December to the lowest level in three years.

Gfk NOP’s Consumer Confidence Index slipped to -33 in December, compared to -31 in November and -21 in December 2010.

Confidence levels have rarely been lower in the last 37 years, only being worse for a single month in 1990 and for eight months during the recession of 2008 and 2009.

Managing director of Gfk NOP Social Research Nick Moon said the data made “chilling reading” for business and cautioned: “Optimism has not been lifted by pre-Christmas spending and it is hard to see grounds for a recovery in confidence in the near future.”

During December consumers’ confidence in the economic outlook fell most steeply month-on-month, followed by attitudes to making big-ticket purchases. People’s confidence in their own financial circumstances over the next 12 months was flat.