UK consumer mood still mixed

05 December 2011

LONDON: Consumers in the UK remain relatively downbeat about their personal financial situation, but broadly positive on a range of other measures, a study has found.

The Office for National Statistics, the governmental body, polled 4,200 adults to gauge popular sentiment on a wide variety of matters.

In response to a question regarding how satisfied they were with their lives, 76% of the panel registered a rating of at least seven points on an ascending ten-point scale.

"We know from other European countries that this is sensitive to business cycles and in recessions life satisfaction drops," said Lord Layard, an economics professor at the London School of Economics.

Some 78% on interviewees took the same view concerning the fact they regularly did things that were "worthwhile".

Felicia Huppert a professor of psychology at Cambridge University, said: "A lot of young people think that wealth and celebrity will make you happy. In fact the data shows it is about relationships and engagement and feeling that you contribute."

Scores stayed similarly high, on 73%, when consumers were asked "How happy did you feel yesterday?", although 36% logged a total of nine points or more, 12% placed this amount at below five points, a greater spread than elsewhere.

A further 27% of the sample admitted to feeling anxious the day before the survey, but 57% recorded figures of less than four points here.

Overall, the primary factors correlating with positive results included an individual's health, being in an established relationship, and having a job.

"We see that people who responded that when their health was bad that they would report anxiety. What we are trying to build up is a picture of how people rate happiness," said Paul Allen of the ONS.

The assessment of an individual's financial position yielded the lowest mean score, of 6.2 points, followed by their "work situation" on 6.7 points.

Upon weighing up whether there was enough time to spend doing things they liked, participants lodged a mean of 6.8 points. This fell behind the 8.3 points for both "personal relationships" and "mental wellbeing".

Data sourced from Office for National Statistics; additional content by Warc staff