We place cookies on your computer to maximise your experience on our websites and to help us make these websites better. If you continue to use our websites we'll assume that you are happy with this. You can change your cookie settings at any time.
Find free, independent and practical advice about caring for older people across the UK
Which? exists to make people as powerful as the organisations that affect their lives. We don't accept any advertising, freebies or sponsorship. All our research and campaigning is completely independent and funded by subscriptions.
The Which? Consumer Insight Tracker shows that consumer optimism about the future of the economy has improved in the last year. We’re also just beginning to see people being more optimistic about their own finances. But essential costs continue to be the top consumer concerns.
..still more likely to be optimistic about the economy's future
Income and attitude to the economy
In the last year, we have started to see people feeling more optimistic about the future of their household finances. But there is still very different experience for those on low incomes and those on high incomes. While 39% of people on the highest incomes expect their finances to improve in the next 12 months, just 23% of those on the lowest incomes agree – although both have seen an improvement.
How many people are cutting back spending on essentials?
Since late summer 2013 we’ve started to see a change in consumer sentiment towards the economy. In June 2012, 6% of people described the economy as good, this increased to 9% in June 2013 and now 25% describe the economy as good.
However, interestingly consumer attitudes towards their household finances, their debt levels and savings have barely changed in the last year.
Over the last year fewer people are worried about essential costs like energy and food, but the proportion of people who are worried about their levels of debt, levels of savings and pension values is unchanged. Currently 6 in 10 people are worried about their pension value, 50% are worried about their level of savings and 4 in 10 worried about their household level of debt.
Top consumer worries
How many people think the UK economy will get better in the next year?
While people have become more optimistic about the economy and worry about essential costs like food and energy has fallen recently, it is interesting to note that worry about housing costs – including mortgage and rental costs - has remained relatively unchanged. Currently 50% of people say they are worried about mortgage rates and 50% are worried about housing costs.
62% of renters and 53% of home owners with a mortgage are worried about their housing costs; this compares to just 25% of people who own their homes outright. As mortgage rate increases look to be on the horizon, it is not surprising that 6 in 10 people with a mortgage are worried about mortgage rates.
Home owners are more likely to describe their finances as good than renters and in the last year we’ve seen a fall in the proportion of private renters who expect their finances to improve in the next year. Our analysis also shows that people who are renting are less optimistic about the economy and their finances than home owners. 41% of home owners expect the economy to get better in the next year, compared to 29% of renters.
Consumer spending has increased in the last year. ONS Consumer Trends data show an increased volume of purchases, especially non-essential items, in each quarter since the start of 2013. At the same time the Which? consumer insight tracker shows fewer consumers cutting back their spending. In particular fewer consumers are cutting back their spending on clothing and big ticket household items.