MUNICH: Price will continue to exert a major influence on the purchase habits of European shoppers this year, figures covering 12 markets have shown.

Dresdner-Cetelem Credit Bank, the financial services provider, surveyed 7,900 people in markets including Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Spain and the UK.

In assessing the current outlook for the economy in their country of residence, consumers delivered an average rating of 4.2 points out of a potential maximum of ten.

Elsewhere, half of participants stated the intention of reining in their overall expenditure levels in 2010, while more than a third also hoped to save more money during this period.

In keeping with this broad trend, 96% of respondents will continue to focus on price even when the downturn comes to an end, while 87% will place the primary emphasis on product quality.

A further 82% of people were willing to accept a more basic in-store environment if it meant goods were cheaper, while 52% would prefer a smaller selection of brands if it kept costs down.

To date, only 44% of contributors had bought Fairtrade brands, and around a third of the panel believed this kind of positioning was simply a marketing tool.

Other reasons halting the heightened uptake of these offerings included comparatively high prices, mentioned by 69% of those polled, and a lack of options outside of the food category, on 64%.

Given this, the report argued that manufacturers of Fairtrade items would have to make careful use of marketing in an effort to strengthen the credibility and attractiveness of their products.

More positively, around half of Europeans expected to boost their outlay on leisure and travel in 2010, with household appliances, furniture and consumer electronics seeing similar growth in demand.

Despite the fact the mobile phone penetration rate stands at over 100% in many countries, shoppers also displayed an enthusiasm for buying new handsets, largely thanks to smartphones such as the iPhone.

Among the predictions for the retail industry in 2010 was the intensification in the rivalry between discounters and mainstream rivals which continue to cut costs as well as running more promotions.

Many shoppers may look to buy second-hand goods, with 61% of adults already having purchased pre-owned books, CDs and video games, while 31% had acquired a used car.

E-commerce portals should also enjoy a surge in interest, largely thanks to the ability to compare prices and the convenience offered by the web.

Data sourced from Dresdner-Cetelem Kreditbank; additional content by Warc staff