Jun 9, 2023
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EY UK consumer index shows cost-of-living is key, eco issues take back seat

Jun 9, 2023

The latest EY UK Future Consumer Index shows that British consumers “are feeling the rising cost-of-living more than their European counterparts”.

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In fact, 62% of UK consumers are “extremely concerned” by the cost-of-living squeeze and that means affordability is at the top of consumers’ minds “as 43% state it is a key decision when making a purchase”.

This also means “green ideals are being forfeited for affordability” with the ‘planet first’ mindset nearly halving from 24% to 13% between June 2022 and April 2023.

But consumers are embracing tech and their confidence in AI is improving with 45% comfortable with its use.

EY surveyed 1,000 UK consumers and found that the aforementioned 62% who are really worried by the cost-of-living squeeze compare negatively to European consumers with only 50% of the latter feeling this way.

And with the 43% who keep affordability very much in mind when shopping, it rises to 54% of low-income households (up from 42% last year). For middle-income consumers, it has risen from 24% to 39%.

As mentioned, the current issues mean that being green can take a back seat. More than half (56%) of consumers surveyed by EY said sustainable products cost too much, while 71% said that price put them off purchasing.

But environmental ideals haven’t disappeared completely and the research showed that “frugal consumer behaviours are now translating into green behaviours – with affordability at the heart”. 

Exactly half of the consumers surveyed said they take environmental action “when it will save them money, with trends such as ‘repair rather than replace’ continuing to see growth”, up from less than half (49%) in February 2022 to more than two-thirds (68%) in April 2023.

Despite a return to physical shopping and slower growth online, e-shopping is still a fixture of UK consumers’ shopping behaviour. And they’re also happily taking tech further. 

As mentioned at the start, nearly half of consumers surveyed say they’re comfortable when AI is used to improve their shopping experience, and 43% are comfortable using a chatbot for customer queries.

But there’s a key area where trust is lacking — their willingness to share data, even when they could benefit. The number of consumers not willing to share data to get cheaper product recommendations has risen from 32% in February 2022 to 41% in April.

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