Consumer confidence fell sharply this month, making the chances of a double dip recession “increasingly real”, according to the GfK NOP.

Its Consumer Confidence Index fell to -31 in April, only the third time it has dropped below -30 in the 37 years the Index has been running.

The other two times were in the early 1990s and mid 2008.

The -31 figure is 15 points lower than this time last year, and 3 points below last month

GfK NOP social research managing director Nick Moon said:  “Coming after six months of stagnant economic growth, this is a significant drop - one that is bad news for the government and bad news for the economy.

“More importantly, in sinking below the -30 figure, consumer confidence has entered a worrying area.

“It suggests that the attempts to spur growth in last month’s Budget have failed to convince the public, and this may well be sorely felt on the already beleaguered high street.

“It is particularly striking that all five areas of the Index fell this month, pointing towards growing gloom as we head into summer.

“These figures must make the possibility of a double dip recession increasingly real.”

The public is less confident over the UK’s general economic situation over the next 12 months. Confidence in people’s own personal financial situation over the next 12 months has also dropped.

People’s willingness to make bit ticket purchases has also softened.