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Consumers and the Economic Outlook: Quarterly Update - UK - April 2015

“Economic improvements are finally beginning to be felt at the consumer level. Falling prices of essentials and rising wages are helping incomes go further and there are indications that people are beginning to relax their budgets and spend on items and experiences that have been out of reach during the years of austerity.

However, lessons learned mean that people are still cautious with savings safety nets still being important and concern about future prospects still being common. As this is likely being exacerbated by uncertainty related to the election it is plausible to expect caution to abate slightly once the results have been announced, but it will take time before consumers feel completely comfortable in their new found freedom.”
– Jessica Morley, Financial Services Analyst

This report discusses the following key issues:

  • Improvements at the household level leave consumers cautiously optimistic 
  • The Capital continues to be predominantly responsible for consumer spend

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Table of contents

  1. Key Findings

      • Improvements at the household level leave consumers cautiously optimistic
        • The Capital continues to be predominantly responsible for consumer spend
          • Key economic indicators
            • Figure 1: Key economic indicators, March 2015
        • Current Financial Situation

          • Economic expectations provide focus for the election campaign
            • Figure 2: “How would you generally describe your financial situation at the moment?”, March 2015
          • Caution limits levels of improvement in consumer sentiment
            • Economic factors have different effects on different households and this affects average consumer sentiment
              • Figure 3: Financial wellbeing index, 2009-15
            • Lagging economic recovery in Wales dampens consumer wellbeing
              • Figure 4: “How would you generally describe your financial situation at the moment?”, by region, March 2015
          • Changes in Financial Wellbeing

            • 26% feel they are better off than a year ago
              • Figure 5: “How would you describe your finances compared to a year ago?”, March 2015
              • Figure 6: The recovery index, 2011-15
            • The influence of house prices
              • Sentiment is rising more strongly in the Midlands
                  • Figure 7: “How would you describe your finances compared to a year ago?”, March 2015
              • Financial Confidence

                • Majority of consumers are cautiously optimistic…
                  • Figure 8: “And how do you feel about your financial situation over the next year or so?”, March 2015
                • …as conditions improve but uncertainty prevails
                  • Figure 9: Financial confidence index, 2009-15
                • London commuter effect boosts confidence of surrounding regions
                  • Figure 10: “And how do you feel about your financial situation over the next year or so?”, by region, March 2015
              • Spending Plans

                • Easing of the income squeeze boosts spending….
                  • Figure 11: “Thinking about how you spend your money, which of the following have you done over the last three months? And which do you plan to do over the next three months?”, March 2015
                • ….but election concerns dampen future spending intentions
                  • Figure 12: Spending index, 2012-15
                • Londoners most likely to continue spending in the run-up to the election
                  • Figure 13: Spending plans, by region, March 2015
              • What It Means

                • Election related uncertainty delaying the return to confidence
                  • Consumers relax in the presence of a safety net

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                  Consumers and the Economic Outlook: Quarterly Update - UK - April 2015

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