European consumers plan to spend

12 October 2009

DUSSELDORF: Consumer spending levels could improve more substantially in Europe than the US at the end of the recession, according to a new study produced by AlixPartners and Brunswick Research.

The two companies surveyed 5,000 adults in France, Germany, Italy, Sweden and the UK to establish their current attitudes and opinions regarding the overall economic climate.

Just 38% of this group predicted there would be a "full recovery" by 2012, while a third of people in the five countries assessed have also postponed making major purchases as a consequence of the continuing financial crisis.

A similar number of respondents in France, Italy and the UK stated that their personal financial situation was getting worse rather than better at present, contributing to the adoption of a variety of different strategies in an effort to save money.

"Europe's biggest winners in the current recession were supermarkets brand groceries, discount stores, use of public transportation, watching TV and use of landline for telephone calls," AlixPartners' said.

By contrast, the "biggest losers" are "coffee shop visits, purchases of home furnishings, shopping at premium stores, purchase of take-out food, premium brand groceries and eating out."

More specifically, consumers had made the most substantial cutbacks when it came to eating out, followed by reducing their expenditure on premium groceries.

However, the "silver lining" was said to be that just 10% of those taking part in the poll thought this behaviour would persist once the financial environment improved.

Most Europeans also expect to return to their pre-recession habits when it comes to eating out at the end of the slump, and will also consider making major purchases, such a new car, at that stage.

A survey conducted by AlixPartners in the US earlier this year found that a majority of Americans thought a "new normal" had emerged, with some spending up to 86% less than before the downturn, and not considering changing this approach in the recovery.

Stefano Aversa, co-president of the company, said "this study suggests that the post-recession rebound, when it comes, may be substantially higher in Europe than in the United States."

Data sourced from AlixPartners; additional content by Warc staff