Tax hike fears sent consumer confidence down sharply in December, according to Nationwide.
A study by the building society observed a five-point drop due to worries about National Insurance rises announced in the pre-Budget report and the VAT rate returning to 17.5%.
"The five point fall in confidence in December suggests that an element of caution may have begun to creep back into the minds of consumers over the Christmas period," said Martin Gahbauer, Nationwide chief economist.
"This comes at the end of a positive year for the index, which gained some upwards momentum in 2009 to help claw its way up from the record low seen in January."
"However, the looming VAT hike and other tax changes announced in the pre-Budget report may have impacted on confidence in December, forcing people to review their expectations for the future."
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