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Consumers keen to spend despite financial worries

Published:  08 April, 2021

Consumers are set to prioritise eating and drinking out in their spending after lockdown, but remain cautious about longer term financial impacts of the pandemic, according to CGA’s latest Consumer Countdown to Reopening research.

It shows that pubs, bars and restaurants will be high on people’s agenda, with 29% of GB consumers planning to spend more there over the next 12 months than they usually would. 

This puts hospitality ahead of international holidays (26%), domestic holidays (25%), clothing (22%) and home improvement (19%) in the list of priorities for spending.

Moreover, the research found that over three quarters (78%) of consumers anticipate eating and drinking out the same as or more often over the next year as they did in 2019, with the number planning to visit more often (39%) nearly twice as high as those planning to cut their frequency (22%).

“It’s good to see that consumers have a big appetite for eating and drinking out again after so long at home, and encouraging that the on premise is so high up their list of priorities despite a lot of competition for their cash,” said Rachel Weller, CGA’s head of consumer research and marketing.

However, she added, while some people would be spending freely, “significant numbers” were still anxious about their safety, the future of the economy or both. 

“Operators and suppliers will need to balance some very different motivations after lockdown, and make a careful assessment of the role of value in particular,” said Weller.

The research also sounded a note of caution about the longer term effect of Covid-19 on the UK’s spending, with three quarters (74%) of the population remaining concerned about financial implications, though this is down from a peak of 85% in April 2020. 

For the first time since the start of the pandemic, numbers worried about finances have overtaken concerns around the health of friends and family (73%) and personal health (68%), the research found.

Yet, these concerns do not appear likely to compromise spending just yet, with over half (52%) of GB adults not expecting their disposable income to change in the next 12 months, and more expecting it to increase (23%) than to decrease (17%). 

Nevertheless, nearly half (46%) say they will be looking to save money—a reminder that a “safety-first approach” would still be in play, said Weller.

According to the latest Market Recovery Monitor from CGA and AlixPartners published at the ned of last month, two out of five licensed premises have outdoor trading space – around 41,000 outlets – enabling them to trade outside from 12 April.