Regions show a variation in sentiment
Since March, we’ve seen consumer sentiment improve across every region, but by varying degrees.
Northern Ireland (+35) and Wales (+33) have shown the greatest improvement and now have net positive sentiment (+11 and +1). This means that, for the first time, London is not the most positive region (-9), as it drops to third. There was also a smaller improvement in sentiment in the Midlands (+8 West Midlands and +9 East Midlands) than the national average (+12).
With both London and Birmingham hit hard by COVID-19, it may be that consumer sentiment in these areas has been impacted by both the economy and the pandemic.
Lockdown spending cutbacks are likely to reverse
Certain categories have taken a huge hit since the start of the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown: 45% of consumers have avoided booking holidays or spent less on fashion and 22% have spent less on beauty.
However, the good news for these sectors is that the cutbacks appear temporary. Only 18%, 14% and 8% of consumers respectively say they will do so after the lockdown, suggesting spending could bounce back in these areas.
Is COVID-19 accelerating the “conscientious consumer” trend?
Since the lockdown, consumers are engaging with retailers differently, and favour more responsible operators. We’ve already seen a consumer backlash against some operators that tried to continue trading despite unaddressed safety concerns being raised by employees or in the media.
Our survey confirms this trend. Across all age groups, 19% are buying more from small companies and 8% from brands who look after their staff. These figures are significantly higher in the younger age ranges, with 28% of under 25s buying from small companies and 17% buying from brands who look after staff.
There’s an even higher percentage across the UK that say they will do more of this in the future (23% and 22% respectively), which hints towards an inflection point for the conscientious consumer trend.