Low consumer confidence reflects persistent doubts about the economy, according to GfK’s Consumer Confidence Index, which increased just two points in May to -1. However, all of the measures, except one, used to calculate the index saw increases this month.

The Major Purchase Index covering big-ticket items increased four points this month to +9, seven points higher than this time last year.

Joe Staton, head of market dynamics at GfK, says: “Despite May’s brave attempt at a recovery with the overall Consumer Confidence Index rising two points from April, we remain in the gloomy world of negative territory this month at -1.

"Optimists will point to the fact our views on personal finances and our willingness to make major purchases are all up on last year. Perhaps this shows consumers are more confident over areas where they have more direct control. But pessimists will emphasise that the music is different when it comes to the General Economic Situation. Despite the tiny uptick this month, our confidence in economic matters, whether we look back or ahead 12 months, remains way below last year. Is it because the Brexit gremlins are hard at work? Almost certainly yes. How will that all change when the EU referendum has taken place on June 23rd?  We all wish we knew the answer to that question.”

The index measuring changes in personal finances during the last 12 months increased by one point to +4, five points higher than May 2015. The forecast for personal finances over the next 12 months remained at +7, four points higher than this time last year.