By Daniel Hunter

Consumer confidence in the UK hit a new nine-month high in March, according to the Nationwide Consumer Confidence Index.

Despite being well below the long term average of 76, the index rose by nine points in March to 53, with 26% of respondents saying that now would be a good time to make major purchases.

However, despite the increase in confidence the news comes less than 24 hours after official data from the Office for National Statistics showed that the UK economy had slipped back into recession.

“Much of the survey‐based data has painted a more upbeat picture of the UK economy than official data in recent months ‐ March’s Consumer Confidence Index continues that trend," Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s Chief Economist said.

"The main Index jumped nine points in March, which is at odds with the challenging economic backdrop, with the UK economy tipping back into recession in the first three months of the year.

“The consumer confidence Index has been fairly volatile from month to month, but since reaching an all time low in September last year the trend has generally been towards increased confidence. It may be that the general decline in inflation from the recent highs of 5.2% last September to 3.5% in March has helped to support spending power and therefore lift consumers’
spirits over the past six months."

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