Survey reveals consumers plan to spend less

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, which has offices in Swindon, 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.”

But Richard Mathews, CEO of Swindon-based Optimum Professional Services, which offers accountancy and legal services, does not believe the picture is as bleak as the survey suggests.

He said: “I am not surprised by the results quoted but in Swindon and the surrounding area we are finding businesses are still investing and generally activity remains high.

“Obviously, Brexit remains a large unknown, but business owners seem to be putting their 2019 plans into place and these are not survival plans but growth plans.”

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: Richard Mathews, of Swindon-based Optimum Professional Services