Consumer confidence increased for the first time in six months in November, but there remained few signs of Christmas cheer.
Confidence rose slightly last month, following five successive months of falls, research by Nationwide shows.
But over the longer-term, things are far less encouraging.
The main confidence index currently stands 37 points below its long term average of 77 and seven points lower than the same point last year.
And while people appeared slightly more willing to buy items for their homes in the month, reservations remain about making major purchases.
Retailers will hope that consumers have been more prepared to splash the cash this month, as Christmas draws ever closer.
Expectations for the future of the UK economy also remain gloomy, although there has been a slight improvement in expectations for employment.
"The small rise in consumer confidence recorded in November can hardly be described as festive cheer, but at least confidence has moved off its all time lows in the run up to Christmas," said Robert Gardner, chief economist at Nationwide.
"There have been few positive developments in the wider economy to lift consumers' spirits in recent months.
Signs that inflation has passed its peak may have produced some comfort, but at 4.8% in November, the cost of living was still rising at more than twice the pace of underlying wage growth."
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