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Consumer confidence at fresh high

The proportion of UK consumers willing to spend money is at its highest level on record as confidence soars to a nine-year high, according to new figures.

The proportion of consumers who believe the UK is in a recession is at its lowest point on record, while positivity about job prospects and personal finances are both at their highest level for seven and half years, the latest figures from Nielsen show.

The UK Consumer Confidence Index hit 97 in the first quarter of this year, the highest point since it reached 101 in the first quarter of 2006 when Tony Blair was in his third term as PM, the base interest rate was 4.5% and Facebook first opened to the public.

The score is derived from Nielsen's Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions, which was established in 2005 to measure consumer attitudes to topics such as job prospects and personal finances.

Consumer positivity about job prospects increased for the eighth consecutive quarter to 45%, the highest level for seven and a half years, while the number of people who believe the UK is in a recession dropped for the eighth consecutive quarter to 51% - the lowest level since the question first appeared in the survey in 2008.

The number of consumers who believe that now is a good time to make purchases rose three points to 45% - the highest level since the question first appeared in the survey in the third quarter of 2006.

Meanwhile, 56% say they have changed spending habits to save money this quarter, the second lowest point on record.

Half (50%) feel positive about their personal finances, the highest level since the third quarter of 2007.

Nielsen UK managing director Steve Smith said: "Consumer confidence in the UK continues to rise.

"The UK is one of the fastest growing major economies, unemployment is falling and people are benefiting from zero inflation and lower prices in supermarkets and petrol stations.

"Whilst the majority of people are still cost-cutting - perhaps habitually now - wages, for others, are rising faster than household expenses. This is leading to more optimism about their future spending, so we expect to see confidence continue to rise in 2015."

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