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Consumers and the Economic Outlook - UK - September 2019

What you need to know

Consumer sentiment around the impact that Brexit will have on both the UK economy and their own financial situation spiked in May 2019 following the delay to the planned Brexit date at the end of March.

In July, sentiment fell back slightly but remains significantly higher than at any other point since February 2017

The cost of living remains the factor considered most likely to be impacted negatively by Brexit (48%), while consumers are marginally more likely to see Brexit being positive (23%) than negative (20%) for their career.

Opinion has become more polarised. There has been a drift away from responses suggesting Brexit will be neither positive nor negative and towards more extreme positions.

“It is a confusing time for the British public. The new Government has been unable to agree a Brexit deal with the EU and Parliament has passed legislation obliging the Prime Minister to request a further extension if he cannot get one. Despite this, Boris Johnson has maintained his stance that the UK will leave the EU on 31 October, with a deal or without one.

The coverage of Brexit is another source of uncertainty. Depending on the newspaper they read, consumers can take Brexit to mean many different things. Even official statements about the anticipated effects are starting to fall on deaf ears as people have become weary after years of Brexit dominating national politics and the news cycle.

And yet, despite all this uncertainty, the things that affect people on a daily basis are fairly stable. Unemployment remains at a decades-long low and wages are rising above inflation. In general, those who want a job have got one and are seeing their spending power increase. As a result, Mintel’s consumer sentiment trackers are all at or around record highs.
With the new Brexit Day and a likely general election around the corner, however, it will be interesting to see how much longer consumer confidence can overcome the wider uncertainty.”

– Rich Shepherd, Associate Director – Financial Services

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Table of contents

  1. Key Findings

      • Uncertainty? What uncertainty?
        • Consumers are sticking to what they know…
          • …but the next few months are key
            • Key economic indicators
              • Figure 1: Key economic indicators, September 2019
          • Consumers’ Response to the EU Referendum Result

            • What you need to know
              • The post-delay revival in sentiment stayed through the summer…
                  • Figure 2: Level of concern over the impact of the EU referendum, July 2016-July 2019
                • …but crunch-time is round the corner (again)
                  • A drift to the extremes
                      • Figure 3: Consumer views on the impact of the EU referendum on the UK economy, July 2019
                  • Current Financial Situation

                    • What you need to know
                      • Over three quarters have healthy or OK finances…
                        • Figure 4: “How would you generally describe your financial situation at the moment?”, August 2019
                      • …as financial well-being reaches another high
                        • Figure 5: The financial well-being index, January 2015-August 2019
                      • A fractured national picture
                        • Figure 6: Financial well-being, by regions, August 2019
                    • Changes in Financial Situation

                      • What you need to know
                        • A third are better off than a year ago
                          • Figure 7: “How would you describe your finances compared to a year ago?”, August 2019
                        • A sustained rise in sentiment…
                          • Figure 8: Changes in household finances, January 2015-August 2019
                        • …but conditions have not improved equally
                          • Figure 9: Financial situation compared to a year ago, by area, August 2019
                      • Financial Confidence

                        • What you need to know
                          • Consumers are looking ahead with optimism…
                            • Figure 10: “And how do you feel about your financial situation over the next year?”, August 2019
                          • …but confidence is a volatile sentiment
                            • Figure 11: The financial confidence index, January 2015-August 2019
                          • Over four fifths of self-employed workers think they’ll be fine next year
                            • Figure 12: Financial confidence, by employment type, August 2019
                        • Planned Financial and Spending Activity

                          • What you need to know
                            • Reported financial activity has hit a record high
                                • Figure 13: The financial activity index, January 2015-August 2019
                              • Expect a slight slowdown in the coming months
                                • Figure 14: “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?”, August 2019

                            Consumers and the Economic Outlook - UK - September 2019

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