Shoppers feel the pinch

Consumers are behaving as if they expect the UK to head back into recession, according to the UK’s second biggest supermarket, Asda.

Our Food PRteam read that the Leeds-based company’s authoritative Income Tracker survey has unveiled a number of worrying new trends as families rein back spending on fears about the future.

In January, family spending power fell by £9 a week, the largest fall on record and the second record-breaking month in a row. The average family had £174 a week to spend in January, down nearly five per cent on the £183 weekly spend over the same period last year.

Rob McWilliam, Asda’s commercial finance director, said that Asda is seeing evidence of a change in customers’ mindset. “Pre Christmas people were thinking there was a possibility they might fall on hard times, but they’d probably be ok,” he said.

This is most apparent in spending on petrol where customers are buying a set amount of petrol in multiples of £10 instead of filling up their tanks. Asda said that more than one in three shoppers are buying petrol in multiples of £10, up from a historic average of one in five. Another area where they are showing their anxiety is ‘hope over adversity’ purchases of lottery scratchcards.

Asda said that scratchcard sales show a direct correlation to people’s anxiety about their future. “Customers are looking for an escape,” said Mr McWilliam. “During the 2008 banking crisis scratchcard sales peaked, but then fell back. We are now seeing scratchcard sales head back in the direction where they were two years ago. It shows customers are worried.”

Asda said scratchcard sales rose six per cent in the last year.

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