Shopper sentiment remained low in December as most measures worsened, GfK NOP’s Consumer Confidence Index showed.

The December figure showed confidence stands at -21, unchanged from November and just one point above this year’s low in July.

The only category which showed an increase in confidence was attitudes towards big-ticket purchases which rose from -17 in November to -7, masking falls in other areas.

Confidence in consumers’ financial situation over the past year dropped from -13 last month to -16, down two points on December 2009. The view of the general economic situation in the past year also dropped five points to -51 over the last month.

Expectations for the year to come are also low. The measurement of attitudes towards personal finances over the next 12 months decreased one point from November to -8 and was down 11 points year on year. Attitudes to the general economic outlook in the next 12 months fell one point from November to -23 and declined 17 points year-on-year.

GfK NOP social research managing director Nick Moon said: “At the moment consumer confidence is being propped up by one thing  - a belief that the run-up to Christmas and the VAT hike is a good time for big-ticket retail purchases.

“The real test will come in January when festive spending ceases and the VAT increase comes in. Then we will finally see the impact of how consumers are reacting to the first wave of austerity measures.”