Brits expected to be on tight budgets this Christmas as purchase intent falls sharply

Brands have been warned to expect tight budgets this Christmas with British consumers’ major purchase intent falling seven points in October, according to GfK’s latest UK Consumer Confidence Index.

The major purchase index score was at 7 points for October compared to a score of 14 for September 2015.

And although this is 12 points higher than October 2014, Joe Staton, head of market dynamics at GfK, believes that with less than two months to go until Christmas consumers are hesitant about spending big.

He told Marketing Week: “We’re entering a key selling period of the year – from November’s Black Friday to last-minute gifting in December – and it’s clear that people are budgeting and not feeling too confident about spending big.

“The question asks ‘Is now the right time to make a major purchase?’ and for three months in a row there has been a note of caution so retailers should prepare for the bargain hunters in the run-up to Christmas.”

Three of the other measures used to calculate consumer confidence also declined this month.

The overall consumer index score fell 1 point from September while consumers’ perception of the general economy decreased two points to -5.

Expectations for the economy over the next 12 months, meanwhile, fell two points to -4 – a rate six points lower than in October 2014.

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However, British consumers’ personal finances appear to be on the rise. The GfK index measuring personal finances during the last 12 months increased by three points this month to +4; this is 11 points higher a year ago.

Staton believes despite this month’s overall slip, there are reasons to be cheerful and that consumers, despite their hesitancy to spend big, do have more money than recent years.

He concluded: “Despite this months slip, the overall index score has remained positive over 2015 in marked contrast to the lows reached between mid-2007 and early 2014 during the depths of the recent economic cycle.”

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