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Shopper Sentiment Survey

The Retail Economics Shopper Sentiment Survey measures confidence in key areas underlying consumer spending such as personal finances, savings, job security and perceptions on the strength of the UK economy.

The Survey adds behavioural context to hard economic data and helps inform our insight into consumer trends in the retail industry.

All Shopper Sentiment Survey reports are downloadable with a
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  • Expectations about personal finances
  • Changes in attitudes towards savings
  • Expenditure intentions in the coming quarter
  • Levels of credit card debt
  • Online shopper trends

Shopper Sentiment Survey - April 2021

Published April 2021

Optimism amongst consumers improved in April. Anxiety around the pandemic has fallen considerably since the start of the year as the coronavirus has subsided and lockdown restrictions slowly eased. Looking ahead, spending intentions are strong for the coming quarter with a quarter of consumers indicating they would be spending more on non-essential items over the next three months, perhaps boosted by the re-opening of non-essential retail stores on April 12.

Shopper Sentiment Survey - January 2021

Published January 2021

Consumer optimism improved in January, with sentiment about the economy and personal finances rising over the last quarter. Significantly, 14% of consumers expect their personal finances to improve over the coming quarter, rising markedly from October. This improvement comes at a time when Covid-19 weighs heavily on consumers, with cases rising to levels seen at the start of the pandemic. Looking ahead, despite spending intentions for the coming quarter improving on the previous period, much will hinge on the efficacy of the vaccine and speed of lockdown restrictions being eased.

Shopper Sentiment Survey: October 2020

Published October 2020

Optimism amongst consumers deteriorated in October. Sentiment about the economy and personal finances was subdued with consumers indicating their personal financial situation had weakened over the last quarter. Significantly, this comes at a time when almost one in 10 consumers are unable to meet minimum repayments on their credit card debt. Looking ahead, growing concerns about the coronavirus will weigh on consumer sentiment as cases accelerate, along with increasing uncertainty over Brexit and the lack of savings. Resultantly, consumers suggested they are intending to spend less in the coming quarter at a time when the retail sector is under enormous strain.

Shopper Sentiment Survey July 2020

Published July 2020

Optimism amongst consumers improved in July. There was improved sentiment about the economy and personal finances as anxiety surrounding the coronavirus eased. While Covid-19 remained the top concern for consumers, it weakened markedly from April. However, many consumers have growing concerns over Brexit as we move closer to the end of the transition period. Consumers suggested they are intending to spend more in the coming quarter which should provide a boost to the retail sector following the prolonged closure of stores. This is encouraging, despite weakness in the economy and slowing real earnings growth.

Shopper Sentiment Survey April 2020

Published April 2020

Optimism amongst consumers deteriorated in April. Confidence has been eroded by the coronavirus. Consumers suggested it was currently their top concern, brushing aside the ongoing Brexit process. As a result, the outlook for non-essential spending is likely to be weak. Indeed, a sharp contraction in the economy as well as rising unemployment will weigh on consumer’s propensity to spend. Concerningly, over half of consumers indicated that they intend to spend less in the coming quarter, deteriorating from January.

Shopper Sentiment Survey January 2020

Published January 2020

Optimism amongst consumers grew in January with consumer sentiment about the economy and personal finances improving for the second consecutive quarter. However, despite consumer’s concerns over Brexit waning (their largest concern), we remain cautious about the outlook for non-essential spending in 2020. Weaker economic growth, a slowing labour market and potential Brexit disruption are likely to weigh on consumer’s propensity to spend. Indeed, 45% of consumers indicated that they intend to spend less in the coming quarter, rising from October.

Shopper Sentiment Survey October 2019

Published November 2019

Consumer sentiment improved somewhat in October on the previous quarter. Consumers have become more optimistic about the economy and their personal finances, with a notable sentiment shift for the 18-24 age group. However, Brexit remains the biggest concern for consumers and continues to weigh on sentiment, leading to a dip in non-essential spending. Concerning for retailers, is that just over two-fifths of consumers are intending to spend less in the next three months – the most important trading period for many sectors across the retail industry. 

Shopper Sentiment Survey July 2019

Published July 2019

Our latest survey suggests that consumer sentiment has deteriorated since April despite improvements in real earnings growth. Consumers expect the economy and their personal finances to weaken in the next three months, whilst saving is also expected to be put on hold. There was a notable shift in sentiment within the 18-24 year age group with a more pessimistic outlook compared to the previous quarter. Looking at spending intentions in the coming quarter suggests that conditions are unlikely to improve, putting further pressure on an already strained retail industry.

Shopper Sentiment Survey April 2019

Published April 2019

Our latest Shopper Sentiment Survey suggests that Brexit’s six-month extension (announced one week before April’s survey) has done little to boost confidence among consumers. Although middle-aged groups generally feel more optimistic than younger and elderly shoppers, the vast majority expect the economy to weaken over the next three months. Despite continued improvements in real earnings since the start of the year, possibly easing anxiety around debt, shoppers are remaining prudent to splashing out in coming months.

Shopper Sentiment Survey January 2019

Published January 2019

Our latest Shopper Sentiment Survey suggested that expectations about the economy were little changed compared with the previous period. Anxiety over Brexit accelerated to its highest level since the referendum, while ‘lack of savings’ and ‘repayment of debts’ were also top concerns. Overall, the backdrop for consumer spending remains weak with almost 50% of consumers suggesting they are planning to spend less or cut back their spending in the next quarter.

Shopper Sentiment Survey October 2018

Published October 2018

There was a slight deterioration in our latest Shopper Sentiment Survey with expectations about the economy and personal finances weakening over the next three months. Anxiety over Brexit remained at its highest level since the referendum while concerns about ‘a weaker economy’ and ‘rising interest rates’ grew. Overall, we expect the backdrop for consumer spending to soften, as weakness in the propensity to spend outweighs any improvements in spending power. Indeed, a fifth of consumers expect to cut back their spending over the next quarter.

Shopper Sentiment Survey July 2018

Published July 2018

Expectations about the economy weakened over the next three months while heightened anxiety over Brexit has reached its highest level since the referendum. However, consumers’ propensity to spend remains soft; they appeared to have spent cautiously over the last three months with little sign of an improvement on the horizon.

Shopper Sentiment Survey April 2018

Published April 2018

A general improvement in perceptions about the economy and personal finances is likely to reflect the sharp fall in inflation and real wages resurfacing for the first time in a year. However propensity to spend remains weak with consumers appearing to have spent cautiously over the last three months which has rolled-over to their spending intentions over the next three months.

Shopper Sentiment Survey January 2018

Published January 2018

There has been a slight improvement in our shopper sentiment results this quarter with consumers expectations about their personal finances improving. That said there has been a sharp shift in the sentiment of younger consumers particularly the 18-24 age group who have grown more pessimistic about the economy and their personal finances since the previous quarter.

Shopper Sentiment Survey October 2017

Published October 2017

As personal finances come under increasing pressure consumers expectations about their personal finances have fallen further. Respondents also suggested that they have started to trade down to cheaper alternatives as well as shopping less frequently in order to better manage their finances.