Consumer confidence tumbles as households cut backFuel, energy and food prices cause most concern

01 November 2012

The latest Which? Quarterly Consumer Report has found that many people plan to cut back on spending. The price of fuel, energy and food are the main consumer 'worries'.

Consumer spending on hold

The second Which? Quarterly Consumer Report shows that consumer confidence remained low in September 2012, with just 38% of people describing their financial situation as 'good'. Worried by high prices, in particular for fuel (81%), energy (78%) and food (75%), many households plan to reduce their spending on clothing, entertainment and big-ticket household items. 

A significant number of people (43%) plan to economise further and cut back on the amount they spend on groceries and food. September 2012 saw 6.6 million households confirm that they had cut back on essentials. 

Interest rate anxiety       

Low interest rates are a further source of worry for many. Over half of those surveyed were worried about the value of their pensions and the interest paid on their savings. The level of household savings and investments concerned 50% of respondents. In September 2012, 4.8 million households dipped into their savings to cover monthly spending.  

While low interest rates worried savers, those with mortgages to pay were also concerned. Lenders' standard variable rates (SVRs) have risen at a time when the Bank of England base rate has remained unchanged (at an all-time low). 50% of consumers put mortgage rates among their top financial worries. 40% were concerned that the price of their house might fall, while one in four were worried about repossession.

Further consumer insight      

Which? survey data (weighted to be demographically representative of all UK adults) is now available online through the Consumer Insight tracker. This is updated monthly and has data on consumer attitudes and behaviour. It can be filtered by age, income, gender or region.

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