Scottish people are more anxious than the rest of the UK about key everyday consumer issues, Which? research has revealed.
When it comes to daily essentials, Scottish consumers demonstrate greater concern than the rest of the UK regarding fuel prices (68 per cent compared to 64) and energy prices (66 per cent to 63).
Which?’s consumer insight report paints a picture of the average consumer in Scotland and the issues they face in everyday life. The report outlines the findings in Scotland averaged over 12 months in 2017.
It found many Scots are worried about food prices (62 per cent) and anticipate increasing spending on the ‘must-pay’ bills in the next twelve months – such as energy bills and groceries (both 31 per cent), running a car (30 per cent) and paying rents or mortgage (19 per cent).
Conversely, many felt that they were likely to reduce spending on ‘luxury’ items, including socialising, eating out and takeaways (30 per cent), big ticket household items (24 per cent) and alcohol or tobacco (24 per cent), while 21 per cent may have to decrease the amount they put away into savings and investments.
Scots (59 per cent) are also markedly more worried about Brexit than their southern counterparts (51 per cent). This worry also seems to be getting worse as compared to Which?’s 2016 Scottish consumer insight report, Brexit worries have increased by seven percentage points (from 52 per cent in 2015 to 59 per cent in 2017).
Compared to Which?’s 2016 Scottish consumer insight report, worries about fuel prices have increased by four percentage points (from 64 per cent to 68) and food prices by three percentage points (59 per cent to 62), while fewer cite concerns about interest rates on savings, down by seven percentage points (from 28 per cent to 21), and pension values which has gone down by six percentage points (from 61 per cent to 55).
Which?’s findings show that certain industries need to do much more to gain consumer trust in Scotland – these include the car industry and estate and lettings agents with levels of trust 10 per cent or below. Train companies, airline/holiday operators and energy suppliers all have room for improvement with only 33 per cent, 32 per cent and 31 per cent of Scottish consumers trusting them respectively.
The water industry has the highest trust score at 69 per cent. However providers of other essential services could improve – trust in broadband/home phone providers is at 43 per cent, banking at 41 per cent and mobile phone services at 36 per cent.
The news comes as the Scottish Government is due to consult on its plans for Scotland’s new unified, statutory consumer body, Consumer Scotland, which was recommended in November 2015.
Which? is calling on the Scottish Government to ensure that its plans for Consumer Scotland address the everyday concerns and needs of the Scottish consumer.
Alex Neill, Which? Managing Director of Home Products and Services, said:
“Our research shows that many Scottish people are struggling with day to day consumer issues such as their fuel and energy bills and believe the situation could get worse over the next year.
“With the Scottish Government due to set out its plans for its new Consumer Scotland body, there is a prime opportunity to establish an organisation which can tackle these concerns and restore consumer trust in critical services in Scotland.”
Notes to editors
1. A full copy of the report can be found here: which.co.uk/policy/consumers/2475/scottish-consumer-insight-report
Consumer Insight Tracker, a bi-monthly online poll for Which? of around 2,000 UK adults (including 200 in Scotland). The figures in the report are from Which?’s Scottish datasets, collated together over the 12 months between January and December 2017. The overall sample size was 12,569 with 1,069 in Scotland.
4. The research also found nearly half (45 per cent) rate the current state of the UK economy as ‘very poor’ or ‘fairly poor’ – a higher proportion than in England (36 per cent) or Wales (37 per cent). Moreover, 54 per cent say the economy is likely to get worse in the next 12 months. Of these nearly a fifth (18 per cent) think it will get a lot worse – again more than Wales and England (NI also 54 per cent, with 14 per cent thinking a lot worse).