The recession may be over, but thriftiness is here to stay

61% of adults believe that the UK is currently in a recession. Although technically we are not, the latest wave of our Recession Tracker has revealed that households are still feeling the pinch, and are continuing to alter their behaviour as a result.  Click on the image below to view our infographic.


Research conducted in February shows that consumer concerns continue to centre on the ever-rising price of gas and electricity (88% concerned), the cost of living (84%), the price of food (82%) and rising inflation (75%). Whilst these levels of concern may seem high, they are, unsurprisingly, lower than we saw back in 2009, when were in depths of recession. At this time, the vast majority of UK consumers were taking action to save money by making sacrifices such as putting off a car change and spending less on holidays, as well as changing their everyday behaviour (e.g. cutting down on gas and electricity consumption, changing how they shop, generally going out less and eating out less often).

This change to everyday behaviour that we saw 5 years ago has continued for many, with around half of UK adults still claiming to be cutting down on gas and electricity consumption and eating out less often.

And what about shopping behaviour in 2014?

UK adults are also continuing to shop differently. 40% of UK adults claim to have changed their non-grocery shopping behaviour as a result of the economic climate, most commonly shopping around to get the best deals, and also spending less on non-grocery items, particularly on clothes and shoes.

Similarly, grocery shopping behaviour has altered, with vouchers/coupons now playing a bigger role in both store selection and product choice, and with shoppers shopping around to get the best deals.

Grocery shoppers are also continuing to switch from brands to cheaper/own label products, particularly for commodities such as toilet roll, tins, packets, jars, biscuits, crisps, breakfast cereals and cleaning products. And once this switch has been made, it tends to be for good, with the majority (62%) saying they will not switch back to more expensive brands when the economy improves.

Being thrifty and “savvy”, it would appear, has now become the norm and is a trend that is here to stay. This poses significant challenges for brands, with more and more shoppers now buying on price. It is also impacting retailers, with Aldi, Lidl et al being cited as “main grocery store visited” by many – indeed, Morrisons have recently reported a £176 million loss, much of which has been attributed to the rise of discounters and has led them to look at strengthening their Value proposition in order to compete.

Get in touch for more findings from our Recession Tracker, or to find out how we can help you understand shoppers and the role that price and promotions play in your category.

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Amy Nichols
01962 842211
Article date - 25/03/2014
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