An improvement in confidence about the macroeconomic environment was offset by a fall in desire to buy big ticket items as consumer confidence remained static in February.

The GfK NOP Consumer Confidence Index has remained at the same level as January at -29, one point lower than February 2011. 

Three of the five measures saw increases this month, with the remaining two measures decreasing.

Confidence about personal finance over the last 12 months fell one point from January to -21 but is up on -16 a year ago. Looking ahead, consumers are more positive about their personal finance over the next 12 months with the index up three points to -6.

The climate for major purchases fell five index points to -27 from January’s -22 as an uplift from the January sales dissipated. The figure is -2 down on last year’s -25.

The measure for the general economic situation of the country during the last 12 months has decreased two points this month to -60; five points lower than this time last year.

An expectation for the general economic situation over the next twelve months has increased by four points to -29, two points higher than February 2011.

GfK Social Research managing director Nick Moon said: “While consumer confidence is still lower than it was a year ago, the Index staying where it was last month should be seen as a positive sign. February’s figures suggest this current increase is built on sturdier foundations than the short-term spike we saw last year, where the gain was wiped out over the following few months.

“The grounds for cautious optimism are found in the detail of the index. While the climate for major purchases fell following the January sales, this has been offset by an improvement in consumer sentiment about the state of the economy and how people feel about their finances over the coming year.”

Singer Capital Markets retail sector analyst Matthew McEachran said: “Whilst confidence remains relatively depressed the fact that the index remained level with January, which saw a four point rise, is a positive sign. The data over the coming months will be key in determining whether this is the start of a sustained improvement or just stabilisation.”