LONDON: Consumers in the UK are continuing to make substantial modifications to their purchase behaviour, even though many have not seen their personal circumstances change during the downturn.

In a preview to their presentation at the Media Research Group's New Beginnings conference in London next week, UM and News International have released a range of new insights – available to Warc subscribers here – into the current views of British shoppers.

Their findings were drawn from UM's Finance 360° tracker, via its Media in Mind platform, which assesses the opinions of 2,500 adults, and News International's Consumer Eye panel of over 3,000 people.

Overall, their data revealed that even when participants had not been directly impacted by the economic crisis, declining confidence levels have resulted in a profound shift in popular preferences.

Some 40% of contributors have reduced their expenditure when it comes to socialising, while 38% entertain at home more frequently, and 37% are eating out less.

Equally, the onset of the recession means more respondents are paying close attention to their day-to-day finances, with two-thirds of households with children falling into the "wallet watcher" category.

In line with this trend, 35% of those polled are spreading out shopping trips across a variety of stores, while 29% have visited new retailers to try and save money, with the vast majority set to continue using these outlets once the recovery begins.

A third of the sample are also reading reviews and blogs on the web in an effort to identify where to find the cheapest goods, with social media, in particular, empowering these netizens in a new way.

Furthermore, the number of shoppers who are redeeming discount vouchers has continued to climb throughout 2009, from 53% in January to 60% in July.

"Consumers have are now well versed on the value of products & services, they have been educated on how to get the best deal. Companies will therefore have to fight harder to keep their customers loyal, and their customers know it," the report said.

Despite this, there is evidence that people are attempting to maintain their lifestyles in certain areas, with 70% of Britons having taken a holiday this year, including 5% that did not do so in 2008.

Warc subscribers can access a more detailed analysis of UM and News International's research here.

For further details about the Media Research Group's New Beginnings conference, and to book a place at the event, click here.

Data sourced from UM/News International; additional content by Warc staff