Consumer confidence dips

LONDON Fri Mar 23, 2012 7:26am GMT

A shopper looks for a bargain at a market stall in east London January 26, 2012. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh

A shopper looks for a bargain at a market stall in east London January 26, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Eddie Keogh

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LONDON (Reuters) - Consumer morale eased last month from January's five-month high as shoppers grew more worried about their jobs, a survey from building society Nationwide showed on Friday.

The figures chime with February retail sales data released on Thursday, which showed the biggest monthly drop in sales volumes for nine months, and raise concerns about the health of Britain's sluggish economic recovery.

Nationwide said its consumer confidence index dropped to 44 in February from 47 in January, more than 30 points below its long-run average, though it holds above the record lows seen in the final quarter of 2011.

The fall was broad based, with a deterioration in consumers' assessment of the present economic situation, the future and their willingness to spend.

"After showing signs of cautious optimism at the start of the year, consumer confidence slipped back in February," said Nationwide economist Robert Gardner. "Weak labour market conditions combined with weaker-than-expected economic growth are continuing to weigh on confidence."

Britain's unemployment rate held at a 16-year high of 8.4 percent in the three months to January.

(Reporting by David Milliken; Editing by Susan Fenton)

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