NEWS14 November 2017

Brits spend more on essentials than consumers in US and India

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UK – British consumers are spending 76% of their disposable income on essentials, as opposed to luxuries, according to new research from KPMG.

Wallet crop

The inaugural survey of 10,000 people across the US, UK, India and China ( 2,500 consumers in each country) found that Brits are spending a greater share of their money on necessities than their US and Indian counterparts, who are spending 72% and 68% of their income on essentials respectively.

Chinese consumers, meanwhile, are spending 79% of their disposable income on essential items.

When asked which categories of spend they would cut first if disposable income was cut by 10%, almost a third of UK participants ( 32.6%) said they would cut back on eating out and ordering takeaway meals. Clothing spend would be cut back first by 15%, while one in 10 ( 9.6%) said they would cut back their spend on holidays and travel.

According to the latest BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor figures, published in early November, sales of non-food items declined 2.1% in the 12 months to October 2017. The report’s figures also pointed to polarisation of consumer spend, with people spending more on essential items such as food, and reining in spend on ‘nice-to-have’ purchases.

Paul Martin, UK head of retail at KPMG, said: “Many British retailers have been left disappointed by sales performance for some time now, with shoppers notably prioritising their spending in the face of price inflation and low wage growth. Running in parallel, the industry has also been battling for their share of the consumer’s wallet, against other avenues of spend including services, experiences and general leisure activities. 

“Of the retail sales growth that has occurred this year, a significant proportion has been fuelled by growing consumer debt. However, with the Bank of England having just raised the interest rates for the first time in over a decade, the tide is turning and we are likely to see a slow-down in customer spending.”

Adrian Clamp, UK head of customer advisory at KPMG, said: "The drivers of consumer decision-making have become more complex in recent years. Businesses reliant on traditional market research and demographic profiles may well find themselves heading in the wrong direction."