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Shoppers “move from fear to doubt” in UK

Posted on 27th August 2010 in Insight
Written by: Fiona Rickard

Consumers in the UK have "moved from being fearful to being doubtful," with a majority remaining keen to reduce their discretionary expenditure. This will affect the out of home market as consumers may see this as a luxury they can cut down on. The bigger picture is that according to Mintel Research two-thirds of people in the country are apprehensive about the domestic economy and nearly a quarter described their financial status as "healthy", over a third said it was "tight", and 40% were "just coping."

Approximately 25% of individuals had no savings to rely on should the situation deteriorate further. Exactly 50% of respondents expressed concerns regarding increased food prices, while rising energy bills, taxes and unemployment also caused anxiety for many contributors. Given these trends, trimming outgoings was a "key priority", with 70% of adults attempting to boost their overall wealth or "repair" a perilous position.

Seven in ten consumers are actively trying to lower food bills, and 40% were looking for cheaper food and drink brands.

Cutting back on non-essential purchases is another strategy adopted by a majority. Almost half of those polled viewed holidays as a "luxury", up from 38% in 2007.
More positively, Mintel reported that 42% of its panel were simply "getting on with life, and not letting money worries get in the way."

The at-home food sector posted an average individual total of £1,054 in 2009, a 3.4% leap, jumping to £2,451 for the normal household. Per capita outlay in this segment has grown 32% in the last decade, and should experience a further lift of 11% between 2010 and 2015. Among the wider developments reshaping the industry are an increased emphasis on health and wellness, an interest in products' origins, and the resurgence of home cooking.

In terms of out-of-home dining, spending rose by just 0.7%, to £31.5bn in 2009, against a 43% expansion annually from 1999 to 2009. Foodservice operators and suppliers need to be prepared for "careful" times ahead as consumer behaviour changes to reduce their unnecessary outgoings. Less spend, spend, spend and more save, save, save.

Data sourced from Mintel and Warc 27 August 2010

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