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UK Consumers and the Economic Outlook: Quarterly market report

"The snap election clearly unsettled consumers. All three of our measures of sentiment fell between April and May. And the inconclusive result means that there was no immediate bounce in confidence post-election. Instead, our data shows that people were even more concerned after the results were announced than they were during the campaign itself.
“In particular, fears over the impact of Brexit are intensifying. We’re still a long way from the extreme negativity we saw immediately after the EU vote, but the level of concern is gradually ticking upwards. The impact on the cost of living is still by far the biggest worry, but Brexit-related concerns about the housing market, the economy and household incomes have all increased over the last few months.”
- Toby Clark, Director of Research, EMEA

This Report looks at the following areas:

  • Consumer sentiment
  • Attitudes towards Brexit
  • Key economic indicators

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Table of contents

  1. Key Findings

      • A strong Christmas reflects stabilising consumer confidence
        • February confidence data was particularly strong
          • The generational divide is still stark
            • Spending intentions reflect strong consumer confidence
              • Key economic indicators
                • Figure 1: Key economic indicators, March 2018
            • Consumers’ Response to Brexit Negotiations

              • The cost of living still dominates people’s Brexit-related concerns
                  • Figure 2: Consumer reaction to the EU vote, December 2017
                • Widespread negativity: but there’s also a core of Brexit optimists
                  • Demographics show that it’s not always the Remainers who are most concerned
                    • Initial shock, followed by a swift recovery…
                      • …but Brexit expectations are now marking time
                          • Figure 3: Brexit-related concerns, July 2016-December 2017
                      • Current Financial Situation

                        • What you need to know
                          • A quarter of people say their finances are healthy
                            • Figure 4: “How would you generally describe your financial situation at the moment?”, February 2018
                          • Sentiment slips, but it’s still relatively strong
                            • Figure 5: The financial well-being index, January 2015-February 2018
                          • Responses polarised across generations…
                            • …and parents are finding it more difficult than most
                            • Changes in Financial Situation

                              • What you need to know
                                • A February bounce…
                                  • Figure 6: “How would you describe your finances compared to a year ago?”, February 2018
                                • …but the underlying trend is downwards
                                  • Figure 7: Changes in household finances, January 2015-February 2018
                                • An easing of the financial pressures on parents
                                • Financial Confidence

                                  • What you need to know
                                    • A surge in optimism in February
                                      • Figure 8: “And how do you feel about your financial situation over the next year or so?”, February 2018
                                    • Even before the February bounce, confidence was holding up well
                                      • Figure 9: The financial confidence index, January 2015-February 2018
                                    • Expectations of a comfortable retirement
                                    • Planned Financial and Spending Activity

                                      • What you need to know
                                        • Planned financial activity is at a new high…
                                          • Figure 10: “Thinking about how you spend your money, which of the following have you done over the last three months? And which of you plan to do over the next three months?”, February 2018
                                        • …but this is partly fuelled by saving plans
                                          • Figure 11: The financial activity index, June 2012-February 2018
                                        • Financial activity: the generational split