Consumer confidence in the UK economy has held steady for the third straight month in March, as Britons adjust to the "new normal" and move out of the crisis prevalent in almost all of 2012.

The headline consumer confidence index of market researchers GfK NOP was at -26 in March, unchanged from the previous two months. The reading was better than analysts' expectations for a level of -27. A reading above zero indicates optimism, while a negative reading indicates pessimism.

The index reading is above its -28 to -33 range from July 2011 through to October 2012, and its 13-month average of -28.

"Whilst a third month with the Index unchanged may not see like cause for rejoicing, it does now begin to seem that the British public's mood has climbed slightly out of the very deep trough it was in for almost all of 2012, and what we are seeing now looks more like the new normal than a temporary boost," Nick Moon, managing director of Social Research at GfK said in a statement.

"The Index is still extremely low in historical terms but even a small rise, when sustained as this one has been, should be considered good news."

A sub-index measuring Britons' outlook for the economy over the next 12 months declined 2 points to -27 in March. Consumers' expectations for their personal finances slipped 1 point to - 6. The 'now is a good time to save' index, fell three points to -23 in March, according to GfK.

Meanwhile, the measure of the climate for making major purchases rose 3 points to -23.

Rising energy bills and inflation are expected to hurt consumer sentiments further, with disposable income continues to fall amid low wage growth.

The survey had a sample size of 2,000 people and was carried out on behalf of the European Commission between 1-10 March.