Consumer confidence has plummeted to an all-time low as concerns over the economy and finances take hold.

The GfK NOP Index found that consumer confidence had dropped a further five points in July, to -39 – the lowest level since records began in 1974.

The market research company blamed higher costs of living, the faltering housing market and reports of further increases in energy prices for the drop.

Confidence is particularly low in women and those aged over 50, according to the report.

There was a further fall in the number of people who think now is a good time to make a big purchase, dropping to -37.

Donna Culverwell, in the consumer confidence team at GfK NOP, said: "There seems to be little sign of any relief, with the growing spectre of the UK going into recession, people are pessimistic and concerned about their future, which is reflected in the biggest drop this month being seen in people’s confidence in their own personal financial situation over the coming 12 months."