Over a quarter of people now have no spare cash, according to the latest Consumer Confidence Survey by The Nielsen Company and the British Retail Consortium.
At 27%, the figure was six percentage points higher at the end of 2010 than a year earlier – and the highest since the survey began to track this in 2005.
Fewer people said they were spending disposable income on holidays, clothes, home improvements, new technologies and investments, and the number of people saving dropped from 34 to 31%. More people claimed to be paying off debts and credit cards with spare cash.
Increasing utility bills have become the number one concern for cash-strapped consumers in the coming months, overtaking the economy. With new record high petrol prices, more people are also worried about rising fuel bills. Concerns over food prices, jobs and debt continue to feature highly.
The poll also reveals that consumer confidence overall was lower at the end of 2010 than at the beginning, and that 82% of consumers believe Britain is still in recession.
Throughout 2010, this figure hovered consistently between 82 and 84%. Only 14% cent believe Britain will be out of recession within 12 months – the lowest figure of the year.