Rising anxiety over the UK's worsening double-dip recession is set to further undermine fragile consumer confidence this month, despite some respite for motorists from falling petrol prices.
Experts predict the GfK index - which surveys individuals' assessment of their personal finances, the wider economy and willingness to splash out on 'big ticket' purchases - will slide to -33 in May. This leaves confidence at its lowest ebb since last December and close to the depths of 2009.
Worries over recession - as well as a messy Greek pull-out of the euro - are likely to hit sentiment among shoppers despite a sharp fall in inflation to 3% in April and better news on the jobs market, economists said. IHS Global Insight's Howard Archer said: "It doesn't help matters when the papers are full of recession and Greek chaos is leading the news every night."
Petrol prices are down nearly 7p a litre from mid-April's record highs of 142.5p, according to the AA - potentially freeing up an extra £3.3bn a day for consumers to spend elsewhere.