Survey shows consumers plan to cut spending

By Gill Harris on 14 January, 2019


A new survey suggests consumers plan to curb their spending across a wide range of products and activities in 2019.

The survey, by audit, tax and consulting firm RSM, asked 2,000 consumers, 184 of whom were from the South West, whether they would spend more, the same, or less on a range of 17 popular products and activities, such as buying clothes, going out for meals, or taking a weekend break.

Without exception, consumers said they planned to spend less across all areas. Only when it came to saving was the result split evenly between saving more and saving less.

Andrew Westbrook, partner and head of retail at RSM, said: “With the current political uncertainty, it’s no surprise that consumers say they plan to cut back on a range of consumer goods and activities. However, as anyone who has ever made a New Year’s resolution will know, there is often a difference between what people say they plan to do, and what they actually do.”

Phil Smith, managing director at Business West, believes the survey sends out a serious message.

He said: “This research shows that Brexit uncertainty continues to be a drag on the UK economy. Furthermore, that these are increasingly worrying times for the high street.

“More broadly, this highlights the need for rebalancing the economy away from financial services and consumer spending toward clean growth and high-value manufacturing.”

According to the survey, consumers said they were most likely to cut spending on takeaways (27.6%), followed by technology (26.8%) and meals out (26.7%). Just over a quarter (25.8%) said they would cut down on buying clothes.

When it came to where consumers thought they would put their money next year, the top three were saving (20.7%), holidays (17.2%) and weekends away (12.5%).

Some 45% of consumers said that living costs would likely have a high impact on their disposable income over the coming year. Almost a third (31%) said that Brexit was likely to have a high impact while the same proportion cited concerns around price inflation.

Andrew added: “The travel sector may well be encouraged by these findings that a relatively high proportion of consumers intend to spend more on holidays and weekends away. Even in straightened economic times, holidays appear to be a high priority for UK consumers.

“However, these figures also suggest there could be tough times ahead for the restaurant and takeaway sector with over a quarter of consumers indicating that they would tighten the purse strings when it came to eating out.”

Pictured above: Phil Smith, of Business West