Shopper confidence in the UK has risen to its highest level for five years, new research from IGD has found, as lockdown measures ease and a vaccination rollout gains pace.
According to IGD's ShopperVista research, consumers are putting increased focus on quality and 'trading up', driven largely by higher-income households, although the market has seen some polarisation, driven by a K-shaped recovery.
Confidence has risen the most among younger shoppers, the study found, with high confidence also reported among female shoppers and those living in Scotland and London.
“Shoppers appear to be approaching the summer in a more positive mindset," said Simon Wainwright, director of global insight at IGD.
"This optimistic sentiment should provide plenty of opportunity for both retail and foodservice as restrictions begin to lift and shoppers are able to socialise. Retailers should focus on capturing the additional spend that higher income shoppers are diverting to ‘trading-up’."
The data, for April 2021, found that shopper confidence rose to -1, the highest level since August 2016. That compares to a confidence level of -11 in March 2020, at the start of the pandemic.
The confidence level even increased to +1 at the end of the month, following the easing of restrictions and opening of non-essential retail outlets.
In addition just 23% of shoppers expect to be 'worse off' in the year ahead, which is the lowest level recorded since 2012, while 74% expect food prices to increase in the coming year (the lowest level since April 2018).
“Many shoppers are choosing food for occasions that requires minimal preparation, enabling them to maximise the social time that they’ve missed out on," said Wainwright. "Ready-to-eat snacks, meal deals and meal kits are likely to be a popular choice among more shoppers this summer.
“It’s important to remember that despite the optimism, confidence is still fragile; shoppers are very aware of the unstable situation, particularly among lower income households whose income and employment prospects have been negatively impacted by the pandemic.”