Shoppers cut non-essential spending less in 2009

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Research points to increasing optimism for high street spending.

British consumers believe they ‘cut back’ their spending on non-essential purchases less during 2009 than they did in 2008, according to research from GfK NOP.

A survey of 1420 people throughout Britain in January revealed a marked fall in the amount of people cutting back across a range of purchases during 2009, compared to the findings of the same survey carried out during late 2008.

For example, in 2008, 54% of consumers claimed to have cut back on buying clothes as a result of the recession, dropping to 37% during 2009 – a fall of some 17% in those spending less on clothes in just one year.

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Ivan Browne, director at GfK NOP, says the results point to a more positive outlook among British consumers. "These results most definitely point to a cautious optimism amongst the UK public, with far less cutting back in 2009 compared to 2008. Importantly these findings are based on what consumers actually did rather than what they predicted they would do, which gives us a far more accurate picture,” he said.

The cut in VAT for 2009, and the subsequent increase in January, made little difference to shoppers, the research found, suggesting that the current 17.5 percent rate will not, as some analysts have predicted, depress demand. “Attitudes towards the [January] VAT increase seem to go against the popular notion that it will be bad news for the High Street, and similarly suggest reasons to be positive,” suggested Browne.

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