Consumer confidence rose to its highest level in 17 months in September.
A survey this week put optimism at its highest level for in almost four years.
The Nationwide Consumer Confidence Index rose to 71 in September from 65 in August, representing the highest level since April 2008.
The expectations index, which gauges people's thoughts on the economy, jobs and their finances in six months' time, rose to 106 in September from 97 in August, its highest since December 2005.
"The substantial rise in positive sentiment reflects widespread reports from various industry commentators recently suggesting that the worst of the recession is over," said Mark Saddleton, Nationwide's head of economic and market analysis.
He said positive news on house prices and the equity market rally may also have boosted sentiment, but noted that people remained downbeat about their current circumstances.
However, consumers are still willing to spend on big purchases such as houses, cars and appliances.
* House prices rose for the third successive month in September, up 1.6% from August, Halifax said.
The average house price rose to £163,533 pounds, leaving it 7.4% below the level seen in September 2008.
House prices have risen nationally by 1.7% since the end of 2008, Halifax said, with increased demand and a limited supply of homes pushing up prices in recent months, said Halifax housing economist Martin Ellis.
Rising unemployment and weak earnings growth, however, will probably stifle rising demand, he said.