British Lifestyles report: Mintel

  • When asked about how their spending habits have changed over the past five years, some 56% of all Brits (amounting to 23 million adults) claim to now only buy items when absolutely needed and almost four in ten (37%) say they are buying fewer treats for themselves and their families.
  • While just over a fifth (22%) of consumers agree they have been better off over the past year, more than a third (36%) say things have become more difficult.
  • A further third (36%) of Brits claim to go on fewer holidays and almost a fifth (17%) are working longer hours as a consequence of the downturn.
  • In addition, while in 2008 six in ten Brits (60%) were perfectly happy with their standard of living, this fell to 50% in 2012.
  • Today, the top three financial priorities for British consumers are 1. Keeping up with bills (82%) 2. Adding to rainy day savings (67%) 3. Saving for big ticket purchases (58%). Just 6% of adults admit they haven’t changed their spending habits in response to the economic downturn.

Retail Employment

Retail Employment: BRC

  • Retail employment rose by 1.8% in the first quarter of 2013 compared with a year earlier, driven entirely by part-time workers and predominantly in food retailers.
  • In the first quarter of 2013, the number of outlets rose by 1.4%, having fallen in the previous quarter.
  • In March, there were 253 more stores in our sample compared with March last year, driven entirely by food retailers.
  • Four in five retailers intend to increase or keep staffing levels unchanged in the next three months.

Economy grows

Gross Domestic Product: Preliminary Estimate, Q1 2013; ONS

  • GDP increased by 0.3% in Q1 2013 compared with Q4 2012. GDP was 0.4% higher in Q1 2013 than in Q3 2011 and therefore has been broadly flat over the last 18 months.
  • Before the sharp fall in output in 2008 and 2009 the economy peaked in Q1 2008; the lowest level was in Q2 2009. GDP fell 6.3% peak to trough.
  • In Q1 2013 it was estimated that GDP was 2.6% below the peak in Q1 2008.

High street sales flat

High street sales flat: CBI’s Distributive Trades Survey

  • 36% of firms reported that sales volumes were up on a year earlier, and 37% said they were down, giving a balance of -1%. This was the lowest balance since August 2012 (-3%) and much lower than expectations of sales growth (+15%)
  • 18% reported sales volumes to be above average for the time of year, and 45% below. The resulting balance of -27% was much weaker than expected   (-1%)
  • Sales volumes are expected to see a small fall in the year to May, with 27% of firms expecting an increase versus 33% predicting a fall, resulting in a balance of -6%. Volume of orders placed upon suppliers are also expected to fall, with 21% of retailers expecting order volumes to be up on a year ago and 36% down, giving a balance of -15%.