The doors of non-essential retail opened again on the 12th April and, with them, crowds of UK consumers queuing up to get back into their favourite stores; an insight into consumer sentiment towards spending money again. With optimism and confidence returning due to the vaccine roll out, consumers are ready to start spending more, the switch in sentiment being immediate, like ‘a light being flicked (on)’.
After being bottled in for over a year, the new taste of freedom that comes with restrictions being lifted could see a spending surge in Q2; a euphoric post-lockdown impact on purchase intentions. Unlike previous recessions, many Brits strengthened their finances and managed to save during lockdown; amassing over £245bn, demonstrating a noteworthy potential for spending power and a likely significant bounce back in the UK post lockdown. A survey from Future illustrated that 45% of respondents had already started to plan their ‘splurge’ purchases, anticipating more than half will be spent as we enter fewer restrictions over April – June.
Britain’s ‘coiled spring’ economy was supported by Radiocentre’s research ‘bounce back and beyond’ where listeners were asked about their spend intentions once restrictions started to lift. Respondents illustrated their strong intent to increase spending across a variety of categories, most significantly against the entertainment and beauty industries. The inverse is also true with decreased spend anticipated against takeaways and online shopping, opting for real life moments and experiences instead. This trend is emerging within fast fashion with searches for online brands starting to soften since non-essential retail returned (Google Trends, 2021).
It’s interesting to note that consumers’ spending habits will likely shift compared with their pre-pandemic behaviours. A study from Bauer showed that consumers want their newfound ‘financial fire power to be a part of positive change’, particularly across sustainability and supporting local. We witnessed a huge increase in local shopping during the pandemic, and despite the return of the city highstreets, experts anticipate the focus on local to continue.
The next couple of months will be imperative for Britain’s returning economy, whilst some are cautious in the immediacy of the bounce back, if the overflowing stores and queues are anything to go by, we can expect a frivolous Q2 and beyond.