A barometer of consumer confidence from market research firm GfK NOP fell to -8 for October from -5 in September. It is now the lowest since March 2003, when the US-led invasion of Iraq took place.
GfK NOP divisional director Grant Montague said: 'We continue to see the nation in subdued mood compared with the earlier part of 2005. Confidence continues on a downward trend - this is the third consecutive month that we have seen the index fall.'
A separate GfK index that measures perceptions of the general economic situation over the coming 12 months fell by three points month on month for October, to -19, showing that the public is pessimistic about the future strength of the economy.