The ANZ-Roy Morgan Australian Consumer Confidence index slid by 2.1 per cent from the previous week, with the "time to buy a household item" dropping 2.5 per cent.
The weekly measure of consumer sentiment, which is based on about 1,000 face-to-face interviews conducted on Saturdays and Sundays, recorded an 8.1 per cent drop in respondents' views of current economic conditions.
The sharp fall was despite an uptick in the measure of how people felt about their own finances, with "current finances" up two per cent.
ANZ economist David Plank said the poll was likely to have been affected by talk of US-Chinese trade tensions and the Reserve Bank of Australia's decision on interest rates.
"At this stage, consumers see these events as more damaging for overall economic prospects than their own finances," he said.
The Westpac-Melbourne Institute consumer confidence survey for May, a more detailed poll of sentiment, was expected to be released on Wednesday.