Financial downturn creates nation of savvy shoppers

New research from Which? has revealed a change in shopping habits since the start of the financial downturn with consumers less likely to make impulse buys and more likely to seek advice before buying.

Six in 10 (62%) consumers say their shopping habits have changed since before the economic downturn, with seven in 10 (70%) making fewer impulse buys now than they used to.

The research shows two thirds of the population (64%) are reading more reviews for products and services ahead of making a purchase, compared to before the financial crisis. Four in 10 (41%) say they are checking out independent advice from organisations like Which? more than they used to when making a significant purchase.

The news comes as Which? prepares to recognise the best in business at the annual Which? Awards 2013, to be held in London on Wednesday 19th June. Since the Awards began in 2007, businesses have been faced with a challenging financial environment with three quarters (78%) of consumers saying they’re shopping around for the best deal more than they used to. The Which? Awards celebrate those businesses who continue to put the customer first and provide excellent products and services.

The squeeze on incomes and collapse in consumer confidence has led households to slash their spending during the financial crisis, with a devastating impact on the wider economy. Recent Which? analysis of official data showed that on average each household spent £3,150 less a year since the beginning of the downturn.

Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, said:

“The economic downturn has created a nation of savvy shoppers. With household budgets squeezed we’re seeing fewer impulse buys and people taking more time to make the right choice with significant purchases. Despite this tough financial climate, many businesses are rising to the challenge, providing good customer service and value for money. The Which? Awards publicly recognise and celebrate the very best businesses in the UK that consistently get it right for consumers.”

Which? has been awarding Best Buy status to only the very best products, services and providers for more than 50 years.

Our research shows:

· Eight in ten (83%) of those aware of the Which? endorsement scheme, whether that’s a Which? Award, one of our Best Buys or a Which? Recommended Provider, said it would positively influence their purchasing decision.

· Nearly half (45%) said it made them more likely to purchase a product than an alternative without an endorsement.

· And a third (34%) of those that had seen or heard of the Which? endorsement scheme recently said that it might even make them increase their budget to buy a recommended product.

Notes for editors:

1. For our shopping habits research, Populus interviewed 2,104 UK adults online between 7th and 9th June 2013. Data were weighted to be demographically representative of all UK adults. Populus is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

2. For our endorsement research, TNS interviewed 2,442 UK adults online between 19th and 25th March 2013. Data were weighted to be demographically representative of all UK adults. TNS is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

3. Recent Which? analysis on household spend can be found here.

4. Businesses shortlisted for a Which? Award 2013 can be found here.

5. The Which? Awards are completely independent and, unlike many industry awards, a company cannot nominate itself. The shortlist is chosen by our experts based on research, testing, Best Buys and feedback from Which? members and the general public.

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