British Retail Consortium (BRC) director general Stephen Robertson said one in five consumers, more than ever before, said consumers were reporting having no spare cash. "Clothes, footwear, furniture and new technology are the biggest casualties as consumers attempt to manage their money," he said.
Mike Watkins, senior manager of retailer services at Nielsen, said the UK Consumer Confidence index was now at 79. "This time last year the index stood at 91, which was the lowest score we had seen since we began polling this survey in 2003. That the score is a further 12 points lower says how much consumers are being stretched," he said.
A survey last month by market research company Nielsen and the BRC asked over 1,000 consumers about their thoughts and feelings on job prospects, personal finances, spending intentions and major concerns.
People are most worried about the economy (31%), followed by debt (26%), work/life balance (20%) and immigration (16%).
It found 55% ranked inflation as their main concern while 39% said it was high interest rates. Sixty percent said job prospects were either not so good or bad compared with 50% in 2007. Fifty-seven percent now think that their own personal finances will be not so good or bad over the coming 12 months compared with 46% six months ago.