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Economic turmoil looms, so why are UK shoppers keeping calm and carrying on?

Economic turmoil looms, so why are UK shoppers keeping calm and carrying on?

Written by

Abbie Dawson


September 2, 2022


Latest research

Prices are rising, but so too is consumer confidence. As we wave goodbye to Summer, we look at how shoppers are feeling and behaving.

As UK inflation bursts above 10% for the first time since early 1982, you wouldn’t be surprised to see headlines on the cost of living crisis decimating consumer spend. Except that’s not the case…yet. 

Despite retailers looking to autumn with an “air of caution”, there are some positive trends to look at regarding how consumers are acting and feeling as we wave goodbye to the summer months. 

Despite prices rising more quickly than wages, the British public, so far, are keeping calm and carrying on when it comes to shopping. Retail sales unexpectedly rose in July. A 0.3% boost, driven largely by online promotions, helped to overcome a broader trend for a decline in spending. 

It’s not only online that shopper’s are spreeing; brighter weather has got people out and about too, with August seeing a rise in footfall across retail destinations. According to the latest data from Springboard, footfall increased at both shopping centres and high streets. 

Springboard marketing and insights director Diane Werhle said:

“Indeed, the continuous heat in August clearly encouraged people to take staycations, which fuelled activity in retail destinations. Also, many consumers took a much longed-for and deferred summer holiday during August – many of which will have been paid for last year or even the year before – driving pre-holiday spending and creating what might be seen as the ‘last hurrah’ before the rise in the energy price cap kicks in during October.” 

It may have been the ‘last hurrah’ but Brits seem to be making the most of it, as the late August bank holiday saw footfall remain buoyant, not denting consumer appetites for shopping. For the long weekend, footfall was up 4.3% against the same pre-pandemic weekend and was also up week on week, with an 1.8% rise.

In terms of how consumers are acting, it seems they’ll keep on keeping on for the time being. But, how are they really feeling? Interestingly, despite YouGov reported a rise in consumer confidence in July after seven straight months of it falling. Overall consumer confidence index rose by 2.0 – the first increase since November 2021. 

Yet, further research by YouGov found that one in four people have had to cut essential spending due to the cost of living crisis. With four in ten Britons saying they have struggled with food bills (42%) and energy bills (41%) in the past three months, retail spending is likely to be far from a priority for most people. 

On a more positive, and slightly bizarre note, YouGov also found that half of Britons wish they could bring back Woolworths! Even a third of 18-24 year olds who were only aged 4-10 when Woolies closed would want to see it come back. 

Similarly, there are positive trends bubbling away when it comes to seasonal events. A new YouGov study finds that 58% of all global consumers say they increased their expenditure for annual seasonal events over the last 12 months compared to their average monthly spend throughout the year. Christmas, Mother’s/Father’s Day and Cyber Week (Black Friday and Cyber Monday) came out on top as the most popular events for consumer’s annually. 

Cyber Week will be here before we know it and zooming in on these seasonal shoppers, YouGov found they are more likely to spend a little extra on things they don’t necessarily need. They’d have loved Woolworths! 


Now more than ever, it’s of great importance to give those customers who do come through the door with their hard-earned pounds a great service and experience. So what is a great customer experience? 

For us at Startle, it is something customers tell friends about. Taking something that can be seen as a commodity and turning it into a major driving factor to your retail brand’s bottomline. It’s getting music and atmosphere on your team and in all your shops. We call it Music+.

Tell me more, tell me more - What does a great retail experience look like?

For your own brand and business, picture interactive screens that empower customers to creatively engage with products and capture imaginations, whilst your atmosphere responsively adapts throughout the day based on your business needs minute to minute. Increase dwell, drive spend, nudge repeat custom…

Walk this way, talk this way…

You have to walk the walk if you talk the talk, so here’s Doug Wooten of Charles Tyrwhitt on how we helped transform their brand’s customer experience:

“From the initial call through to our first playlist, Startle were quick and easy to deal with. We had to move quickly across 40 UK and USA sites and had devices in stores within the week ready for self-install. Followed by amazing support and a perfectly curated playlist, it couldn’t have been easier.”

Get in touch to start playing your retail customers the kind of background music that creates hair-tingling moments.

Why not download for free (and with very little effort) our retail brochure?

And if you think we can help, we’d love to hear from you. Call us on +44 (0)203 397 7676 or drop us an email at

Economic turmoil looms, so why are UK shoppers keeping calm and carrying on?

Abbie Dawson

Marketing Executive at Startle. It's my job to manage marketing, making sure to spread the word of Startle to as many brands as possible. When I'm not working, you'll find me vinyl shopping to add to my collection or working out at the gym (usually making enemies with a punching bag).

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Hey, we've just met you and this is crazy. But here's our number +44 (0)203 397 7676. So, call us maybe?

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