Cost-of-living pressures have affected Britons more than their European counterparts, a recent report has claimed.
According to the latest EY UK Future Consumer Index, 62 per cent of UK consumers are “extremely concerned” by the cost-of-living squeeze, compared with 50 per cent in the rest of Europe.
Affordability continues to be felt most keenly by low-income households, with 54 per cent of this group prioritising affordability – up from 42 per cent in June 2022 – compared to a rise from 24 per cent to 39 per cent for middle-income consumers. The proportion of households in the high-income bracket putting affordability first, increased from 11 per cent to 17 per cent over the same period.
60 per cent of consumers have noticed price rises, with as many as 87 per cent seeing price rises in fresh and packaged food, compared to 59 per cent in June 2022. UK consumers continue to be more open to supermarket own-label, with 80 per cent willing to buy these lines compared to only 50 per cent of their European counterparts.
Silvia Rindone, EY UK&I Retail Lead, commented: “Our latest survey shows the strain the ongoing cost-of-living squeeze is having on UK consumers who are making more considered decisions about how and where they spend their money. This challenging, highly-price sensitive environment means brands and retailers need to work harder than ever to understand the factors influencing the UK consumer and re-evaluate ranges and pricing to better meet their needs.”
Meanwhile, the study suggests rising costs are creating new obstacles for the environmentally conscious consumer, hampering their ability to embrace sustainable products. More than half (56 per cent) of consumers surveyed by EY said sustainable products cost too much, while 71 per cent said that price put them off purchasing.
Environmental ideals have not disappeared completely though: the research found that frugal consumer behaviours are now translating into green behaviours – with affordability at the heart. Half (50 per cent) of the consumers surveyed said they take environmental action when it will save them money, with trends such as ‘repair rather than replace’ continuing to see growth, up from less than half (49 per cent) in February 2022 to more than two-thirds (68 per cent) in April 2023.