Nick Moon, managing director of GfK NOP Social Research, comments on his organisation's latest consumer confidence barometer:
"January's eight point drop represents an astonishing collapse in consumer confidence. In the 35 years since the ondex began, confidence has only slumped this much in a single month on six occasions, the last being November to December 1994.
"The VAT increase is the first of the government's austerity measures that has had a widespread impact on consumers, and it seems to have hit people's economic confidence hard, especially as the biggest drop was in consumers' appetite for major purchases.
"With inflation on the up and the full force of the cuts yet to hit, these figures could be the beginning of a very painful period.
"There is a chance that these figures represent a post-Christmas blip, but even if there is a rally in February it is extremely unlikely that it will reverse this massive drop.
"Today's figures, when combined with the bleak economic forecast, will make talk of a double dip recession unavoidable."