The GfK consumer confidence index in March grew to its highest level since August 2007, the start of the economic downturn.

Consumer sentiment jumped two points in the month to -5.

The index has risen by 22 points over the last year, recording the largest increase since November 2008 to October 2009.

GfK managing director for social research Nick Moon said: “The current long-term trend is very strongly positive. People are now on balance more positive than negative about their own financial prospects over the next year, and it is unlikely that anything announced in the recent Budget will reverse this.”

Most of the five measures used to calculate the index recorded increases.

Consumer sentiment concerning personal finances over the last 12 months advanced two points to -11, and the forecast for personal finances over the next 12 months increased one point to 5.

Feelings over the general economic situation grew two points to -15, while expectations over the next 12 months increased two points to 4.

Shoppers also felt more confident about major purchases and the index increase four points to -7.

But the ‘now is a good time to save’ index fell two points to -14.