Consumer behaviour remains in flux in UK

25 May 2010

LONDON: The changes in UK consumer behaviour brought about by the recession are likely to remain in place during and after the economic recovery, a new study has found.

A survey by Datamonitor, the research firm, reported that 48% of participants believed they were worse off at present than was the case six months ago.

The company added that many respondents have moved beyond simply trading down to cheaper products, and are adopting a wide range of strategies in a bid to contain their expenditure levels.

More specifically, 43% of its panel were limiting the number of shopping trips they made to ensure they did not make too many "non-essential" purchases.

Elsewhere, 42% of contributors were reducing the amount of food and drink they wasted by taking a more restrictive approach both when in stores and at home.

"The recession has changed the way consumers shop, creating a far savvier shopper who is now completely re-thinking the way they spend their money," Annabel Gorringe, senior financial analyst at Datamonitor, said.

"Retailers cannot count on shoppers reverting to old pre-recession behaviour."

Tesco, the UK's biggest supermarket chain, has attempted to reflect the fluctuations in popular preferences by rolling out "Buy one, get one free – later" deals.

These schemes enable people wanting to take part in two-for-one promotions to reclaim the second free product at a later date of their choosing.

"Customers really like our buy one get one free deals but feedback shows smaller households sometimes can't use the free product before its use-by date," Lucy Neville-Rolfe, a Tesco executive director, said.

"Now we're giving customers the flexibility by claiming their free product the following week instead. As well as giving our customers a flexible new offer, we're helping them to cut food waste."

Data sourced from Talking Retail/Daily Mail; additional content by Warc staff