Consumer confidence improved in August for the first time since February.

Gfk NOP’s Consumer Confidence Index climbed four points to -18 as sentiment improved in most areas. The exception was attitudes towards making big purchases, which fell four points.

Managing director of Gfk NOP social research Nick Moon said that had the index fallen again during August, a double-dip recession would have seemed “a very real prospect”.

He said: “The single biggest improvement has been in confidence in the economy over the next 12 months and this looks particularly encouraging at first sight.

“However, this gain merely reverses a similarly large drop in July and in reality confidence in the economy’s future prospects remains below its June level and similar to May 2009 when we were still in the grip of a recession.”