Brexit causes continental concern

Results from a Mintel survey of over 7,000 consumers across Europe reveals that people in Spain, Italy and Poland are more concerned about the effects of Brexit on their own economies than British consumers are on the UK economy.

In research commissioned in the aftermath of Britain's vote to leave the European Union, global market intelligence agency Mintel finds that almost half (48 per cent) of Spanish consumers fear that Brexit will have a ‘somewhat’ or ‘extremely’ negative impact on their own economy, as do 41 per cent of Italian and Polish consumers respectively. Additionally, over one in three (36 per cent) Germans agree that the UK’s vote to leave will have a negative impact on their country’s economy, with 31 per cent of French consumers saying they expect it to impact France’s economic growth.

In comparison, two in five (39 per cent) of Britons say they expect the UK’s vote to have a negative impact on their economy. A sizeable minority of British consumers welcome the result and think that it could be good for the economy: 25 per cent think that it will have an ‘extremely’ or ‘somewhat’ positive impact. But their European counterparts are far more negative about the UK's economic prospects now that the country has voted to leave the EU. Over three in five (64 per cent) Germans say that the Brexit vote will have a negative effect on Britain’s economy, as do 58 per cent of Spanish consumers, 50 per cent of French, 43 per cent of Italian, and 41 per cent of Polish respondents.

Several Dutch, Irish and Danish importers spoken to by Horticulture Week say plants and garden product prices could rise by 10 per cent, though others say they are keeping to existing prices despite the impact on exchange rates caused by Brexit. Retail sales have slowed since the 23 June vote, but most garden centres are blaming the weather.

Growers have also expressed concern over staffing.

Mintel EMEA research director Toby Clark said: "The results show how widely the repercussions of the Brexit vote have spread and clearly highlight the risk that uncertainty and disruption have, as well as the potential to drag down consumer sentiment across the continent as a whole. But the data also shows that British consumers are much more upbeat about their prospects than their counterparts in other key European markets."

While the negative effect on their own country’s economies is top of European consumers’ Brexit concerns, fears over unemployment are also high. Mintel research finds that 42 per cent of Italian, 40 per cent of Spanish and 50 per cent of Polish consumers believe that the UK vote to leave the EU will have a negative effect on their respective national unemployment levels. In comparison, less than two in five (37 per cent) UK consumers say they expect Brexit to have a negative impact on the UK’s unemployment levels, with 24% saying it will have a positive effect.

Topping the list of UK concerns, many British consumers believe that the cost of living will be negatively impacted by the UK’s vote to leave the EU. Almost half (46 per cent) of UK consumers say they expect the cost of living to be negatively impacted as a result of Brexit, followed by 41 per cent of Italian, 36 per cent of Polish and 34 per cent of Spanish consumers. German consumers appear less cautious, with fewer than one in four (22 per cent) saying they expect their cost of living to be negatively impacted by Brexit.

Just 27 per cent of Britons say they expect their household income to be negatively impacted by the UK’s vote to leave, followed by 25 per cent of Italian, 24 per cent of Polish and 20 per cent of French and Spanish consumers respectively.

While consumers across Europe share fears over the impact of Brexit, research from Mintel’s financial confidence tracker reveals that post referendum, UK consumer confidence since Brexit has been undermined, but that it hasn’t collapsed. In results collected post-referendum asking Britons about their financial situation over the next year*, just over one quarter (27 per cent) of consumers said that they were pretty confident they would be ok, down from one in three (33 per cent) Brits who agreed with this in May 2016. Meanwhile, 55 per cent said they were concerned about their finances over the next year, but should be fine, up from 52 per cent who said this two months previously.

Many consumers are reluctant to commit to big-ticket purchases, reflected in the fall in the proportion of those who plan to make home improvements. Just 18 per cent of Britons say they plan to spend money on the home in the next three months, down from one quarter (23 per cent) who said the same before the vote in May 2016. 

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