LONDON British consumer confidence fell sharply in December, all but wiping out the previous month's improvement, as expectations for the wider economy worsened, a survey showed on Friday.
The GfK NOP headline index plunged to -29 this month from November's 18-month high of -22, disappointing economists' forecasts for a reading of -25.
"The index is now only one point higher than it was in October 2012, indicating that consumer sentiment is still fragile despite the fact Christmas is less than a week away," said Nick Moon, GfK's managing director of social research.
The breakdown of the results showed that Britons' sentiment about the economy over the next 12 months deteriorated to the level last seen in June, when the country was in a recession.
Four of the five measures used to gauge consumer confidence fell this month, with only personal finances remaining unchanged at -7.
The survey bodes ill for retail sales in the crucial Christmas trading period, which got off to a weak start last month with stagnant trade.
And in the first half of this month, retail sales grew less than expected, according to a survey by the Confederation of British Industry.
GfK polled around 2,000 people between November 30 and December 9 on behalf of the European Commission, the EU's executive body.
(Reporting by Li-mei Hoang; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)