The UK economy is beginning to show signs of recovery, according to improved online consumer spending patterns highlighted by research from online loyalty specialists Maximiles.
For the 2009 Consumer Confidence Report, Maximiles analysed the online spending habits of two million British consumers using its ipoints.co.uk shopping portal.
The report indexes consumer spending patterns online across everyday items from June 2008 to June 2009 and draws comparisons with the spending trends seen in the downturn at the start of the decade, from March 2001 to March 2002, and concludes that "now may be a time for cautious optimism."
Spending on basic consumer electronics and appliances such as personal music systems, DVDs, microwaves and kettles has increased by one percent from July 2008, currently accounting for 23 percent of total UK online spend each month, but this is down from a peak of 28 percent in February of this year. However, consumers are looking for more value online as the average spend per person on these products each month has dropped from £9.61 to £6.04.
This mirrors the shifting consumer trends during the recovery periods of the last downturn, says Maximiles, when the proportion of our cash that we were spending on consumer electronics products per month peaked at 26 percent at the height of the downturn and then decreased as the recovery began, slowing to 25 percent.
"During the last downturn, even though better credit conditions meant that consumers were spending more overall, we witnessed a definite rise in the number of purchases of everyday consumer goods as the recession peaked, and a marked decrease as consumer confidence picked up in early 2002," says Guy Keeling, managing director of Maximiles UK. "We are seeing this trend repeat today, indicating that general economic conditions are improving for many of our customers."
Patterns of consumer spending on home and garden furnishings are also starting to suggest that the worst of the recession may be over. Sales of home wares have fallen while travel-related purchases have increased over the last three months, again following the pattern of the last recession.
"Belts have tightened across the country, but it appears they may be loosening as consumer confidence returns," concludes Keeling.