NUREMBERG: Consumers in most of Europe's largest markets remain anxious about the economic situation, meaning many are limiting their expenditure levels, a new survey has found.

GfK, the research firm, polled 40,000 people in 12 nations – including France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom – which together account for almost 80% of the European Union's population.

Its index of economic expectations fell in almost all of the countries assessed. Germany posted the best total, albeit at -0.3 points, ahead of Spain on -3.6 points and Bulgaria on -25.5 points.

The worst figures were recorded in the Czech Republic on -63 points, Greece on -58.6 points and Portugal on -54.7 points.

"New rescue packages, uncertainty about further developments in Greece, Italy and France and the prospects of poorer economic development in 2012 are all heightening the anxiety of European consumers," GfK said.

When discussing the outlook for their income, Germany once again led the field, on 34 points, as respondents were buoyed by continued economic growth despite the ongoing eurozone crisis.

Spain also retained second place in this area, some way further back on -8.6 points. Austria was third, on -19.7 points.

Elsewhere, Greece was among the lowest scoring countries here, yielding -65 points, followed by Italy on -60.7 points and France on -60.4 points.

Turning to the "willingness to buy" index, Austria took the lead position on 35.6 points, bettering the 27.4 points registered by Germany, which had claimed the top spot in this category every month since September 2008.

Less favourably, the UK logged -54.8 points on this metric, while Portugal was on -44.1 points and France was on -29.8 points.

Data sourced from GfK; additional content by Warc staff