U.K. Consumers Brace for Brexit Hit as Economy Concern Grows

Identify Risks but Find Opportunities, Says Ritchie
  • About 61% of Britons say Brexit will impact personal finances
  • Greene King says consumer confidence likely to be affected

A larger proportion of Britons are worried that Brexit will hurt their personal finances than voted to leave the European Union last week, illustrating the extent of uncertainty among U.K. consumers in the wake of the historic vote.

About 61 percent of 2,000 people surveyed by researcher Retail Economics over the weekend said they were concerned about the future of the U.K. economy. That compares with the 52 percent who voted to quit the EU.

The findings pile more gloom on industries such as retailing, pubs and restaurants, where share prices have plunged in the aftermath of the Brexit vote. Pub company Greene King Plc said Wednesday that consumer confidence is “likely” to be affected by the decision, while electronics retailer Dixons Carphone Plc said volatility is the “inevitable consequence.” Carpetright Plc shares plunged 20 percent Tuesday even as CEO Wilf Walsh said that the floor-coverings seller is well-placed to weather any storm.

“Concerns over the future of the economy, personal finances and rising costs of living are likely to choke-off consumer confidence and spending,” said Richard Lim, chief executive officer of Retail Economics.

On a conference call to discuss Dixons Carphone’s full-year earnings Wednesday, Chief Financial Officer Humphrey Singer sought to ease anxiety over the impact, saying U.K. sales were up in the four days after the referendum.

“I guess the world keeps turning and that’s a good sign,” Singer said.

The survey of U.K. consumers also found:
*58 percent would hold back spending on non-essential items
*Electronics and home-improvement categories likely to be hardest hit
*More than half of those surveyed likely to save more
*61 percent worried about the prospect of rising food prices

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