Consumer confidence rose to an 18-month high in November as the GfK NOP Index jumped eight points unexpectedly.
The Index advanced to -22 from -30 last month, which is the strongest uplift since May 2011 and better than forecasts, which had expected unchanged sentiment.
It comes just days before Chancellor George Osborne will address Parliament on Wednesday December 5 to set out pre-Budget policies in the Autumn Statement, which is likely to have an impact on consumer confidence.
GfK social research managing director Nick Moon said: “The improvement is especially dramatic following such a stagnant summer and represents the seventh highest increase since the Index began in 1974.
“The improvement in consumer confidence will be especially welcomed by retailers as the figures show that people are increasingly optimistic about how the economy will perform over the next twelve months. This could be because consumers now think things can’t get any worse or it may be for more positive reasons, but either way it is good news as we look ahead to 2013.”
The survey showed that consumers were more confident about their personal financial situation over the next 12 months, which jumped six points to -7.
An expectation of the general economic situation improving over the next 12 months jumped 14 points to -15.
Moon cautioned: “The direction things head in the New Year will be crucial in determining whether this is a short-term spike or the start of a long-term improvement in people’s spending habits.
“When we saw a significant improvement like this in May 2011 the surge ebbed away over the following few months as the country returned to recession. Hopefully this spike is built on firmer foundations.”