Consumers feeling the pinch

Homeowners across the UK are feeling their financial purse strings gradually tightening as inflationary pressures continue to mount. The pursuit of cheaper home insurance, bargain buys at the supermarket, and cut price holiday offers are becoming ever more important for those who don’t want to see a drop in their standard of living.

Retail giants seeing sales slow dramatically

With new inflation figures set to be released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) today, sales figures released by two of the UK’s biggest retail giants, Argos and Tesco recently, show just how difficult consumers are now finding the struggle to maintain their spending power.

Public buying less food so they can feed their car

Tesco announced this morning that for the second quarter in succession they have missed their sales targets on UK based stores. The underlying trend for stores in the UK that have been open for more than a year came in at -0.1%, this follows a -0.7% drop in the previous quarter and is considerably less than the 0.6% increase they anticipated. Tesco analysts believe that shoppers at their stores have cut back on food items, particularly fresh produce, to counter balance the extra cash they are forking out to fill up their cars at Tesco Fuel Stations. It is becoming more obvious daily that the austerity measures introduced by the government coupled with inflation fuelled price rises are impacting heavily on the general public.

Electrical goods losing their spark

Retail stores that rely on the discretionary spending power of consumers are being even harder hit. The Home Retail Group, owners of Argos, recently reported a drop of almost 10% in like for like sales on the first quarter of 2011 compared to the previous year. The collapse in sales of high value electronic items such as TVs and game consoles was the main factor according to the group’s chief executive.

DIY projects seen as money savers

Perhaps another indication of how the downturn is affecting the general public came from the figures released by the same group. While Argos stores took a beating over the quarter, Homebase DIY another part of the group actually showed an increase in like for like sales of 1.6%. A comment perhaps that homeowners are turning to DIY solutions for upgrading their properties safe in the knowledge they are covered by home insurance rather than bringing in tradesmen to do the jobs for them.

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