Bored shopaholics turning to drink, movies and holidays

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Britain's reputation as a nation of shopaholics has been tarnished by a survey revealing a slump in the amount of money spent on the high street.

Britain's reputation as a nation of shopaholics has been tarnished by a survey revealing a slump in the amount of money spent on the high street.

Households are shunning shops in favour of dining out, drinking, cinema, theatre and holidays. The survey, published by Verdict, a leading firm of consultants, found that consumers were spending a decreasing proportion of their income in the shops.

The proportion of take-home pay devoted to shopping has plunged from 47 per cent in 1980 to 32.9 per cent last year. Verdict believes the figure will sink below 30 per cent by 2005.

The bad news for shopkeepers was compounded by the finding that households had become far wealthier over that time but had spent the extra cash elsewhere. The study claims consumers have lost confidence in big retailers and noted evidence that people made fewer visits to the shops.

The worst-hit sector was clothing, where consumer loyalty had fallen by more than 10 per cent in the past three years. This will come as little surprise to Marks & Spencer, which has issued several profit warnings, sold off branches and become embroiled in a high-profile legal battle in France over its decision to close its stores on the Continent. But M&S is not alone, and while retail sales are growing, retailers reporting poor results far outnumber those that are still prospering.

Richard Hyman, director of Verdict, said: "With an ageing population, today's typical consumers are increasingly likely to have completed the major acquisition phase of their consumption and already have much of what is on offer in the shops. They no longer need to shop with the same frequency and the internet helps this even more."

Sales of shoes and of household goods ­ often a barometer of the economy's health ­ have also fallen, Verdict said. The one sector where spending has risen,although modestly, is personal care, such as toiletries.

Mr Hyman said: "A combination of boredom, a failure of retailers to attract through inspiration, and consumers having better things to do with both time and money have combined to produce a highly significant trend.

"It's the fashion area that is really the hardest hit. It has the most extensive over-supply, with too many companies offering the same basic proposition. We have seen a player like C&A withdraw after being a major player for many years. It is an indication of just how difficult trading conditions are."

All this is potentially good news for consumers, Verdict believes. To tempt consumers, retailers will have to extendlow prices, and offer better value in terms of service, quality and the shopping environment.

Comments