LONDON: Economic gloom in the UK is settling ever more heavily on the shoulder of the nation's consumers, who say they feel  increasingly hard-up.

Consumer Attitudes Towards Debt, a new survey by market researcher Mintel, says four per cent of British people claim they are struggling and have missed payments recently.

The number of respondents feeling comfortably off has fallen, from 64% two years ago, to 51% in 2008, while 39% of consumers say their financial situation is tight now, compared with 25% in 2006.

In addition, the report reveals that 46% of adults still have outstanding unsecured debts (over and above a mortgage), while 30% have the added problem of no savings.

It also contains bleak news on the housing market, with a third of adults predicting further falls in prices in the near future.

Comments Toby Clark, senior finance analyst at Mintel: "The good news is that the vast majority of people can still afford to make ends meet. But there has clearly been deterioration in people's perception of their financial situation over the past two years, as rising interest rates and higher living costs have really started to take hold."

He adds: "As people look to make their hard-earned cash stretch further, any company that can clearly show how it offers good value for money, will be at a real advantage."

Data sourced from Brand Republic (UK); additional content by WARC staff