LONDON (Reuters) - British consumer confidence fell for the third straight month in December, its longest decline since 2010, a survey from researchers GfK NOP showed on Friday, signalling concerns about personal finances.
The global market research group’s headline consumer confidence index fell to -13 from -12 in November, despite an improving economic outlook.
A Reuters poll of economists had produced a median forecast for a slight improvement in the index to -11.
The sudden recovery of the British economy has surprised even the government in recent months, and the GfK/NOP index is considerably higher than it was in December last year when it stood at -29.
But average wages are rising slower than prices, hurting living standards.
“The explanation for the last quarter of declining confidence most likely results from people’s sense of how well - or rather badly - off they personally feel,” said Nick Moon, managing director of GfK NOP Social Research.
Big spenders also held off, the survey showed, with the major purchase index down 4 to -17, although again this was an improvement from -27 a year ago.
Official data this week showed shoppers remaining cautious as a rise in sales volumes failed to regain ground lost the previous month.
Consumers were a bit gloomier about the outlook for the economy in the year ahead, down 3 points from November at -4. But that compared with a much more pessimistic -31 in December 2012, GfK said.
The Bank has said the recovery so far has been driven by consumers but must broaden out to include business investment if it is to last.
A separate report published on Friday by British bank Lloyds found that pessimism about the economy fell to 76 percent in November from 79 percent in October. Negative sentiment towards personal finance rose 1 percent to 47 percent.
The GfK survey was conducted between Nov 29 and Dec 16, and was carried out by GfK NOP on behalf of the European Commission.
Reporting by Freya Berry; Editing by William Schomberg and Hugh Lawson