With the lifestyles of many consumers in Britain in flux over the past five years, Mintel's annual British Lifestyles report reveals the legacy of the economic downturn.

Savvy spending rules, says Mintel survey

With the lifestyles of many consumers in Britain in flux over the past five years, Mintel’s annual British Lifestyles report reveals the legacy of the economic downturn.

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 keeping up with bills (82%); adding to rainy day savings (67%); and saving for big ticket purchases (58%). Just 6% of adults admit they haven’t changed their spending habits in response to the economic downturn.

Mintel senior consumer and lifestyles analyst Ina Mitskavets said: “Amidst the rising cost of living and biting austerity measures, British consumers are adjusting to the new economic reality, with financial prudence and savvy shopping already the default for many.

“Britons are working harder and saving more money for the future, as a direct consequence of the recession. The reduced desire to fritter away hard-earned income on ‘nice-to-haves’ will shape retail offerings and will have far-reaching implications for consumer expectations about quality, price, product variety and customer service.”

Mintel’s research also examined the value of every consumer market covered by its market research and the impact of consumer spend on market sectors to 2017.

Valued at £999 billion in 2012, overall, consumer spend is set to grow a further 17% between 2012 and 2017 to reach £1.17 trillion.

Key sectors that stand to benefit in the next five years include: non-alcoholic drinks (set to increase 25%), in-home food (20%) and beauty and personal care (18%).

The slowest areas of growth will be technology and communications (5%), home and garden (7%), foodservice (7%), holidays (9%) and leisure and entertainment (11%).

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