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2018 UK Consumer Spending Habits: Convenience and Confidence


The buying habits of consumers: To buy or not to buy?

We found that UK consumers are typically very measured when it comes to spending. While many Brits could be described as having ‘short arms and deep pockets’, their reluctance to fork out could be for a variety of reasons: frugality, caution or plain old indecisiveness. What this means in real terms though, is that UK consumers spend almost a year of their lives deliberating their purchasing decisions. This breaks down to two and a half hours per week, five days a year – or 340 days over a lifetime.

On average, UK consumers spend one hour deciding whether to make a small purchase such as a lipstick or what to have for lunch, and two weeks considering medium-sized purchases like a weekend getaway or a new outfit. For large purchases like a car or holiday, consumers commonly take up to three and a half months to make a decision.

This caution is equally noticeable when it comes to household items and appliances. UK consumers are unlikely to buy a newer model just for the sake of appearances or exciting new features. If something is broken beyond repair, then – and only then – will they replace it. Nine out of ten consumers will wait until a fridge or washing machine is completely broken before buying a new one.

Confidence comes with age

Our research revealed that older generations know what they want and feel more confident about their purchases than their younger counterparts. In fact, 63% of 60+ year olds say if they see something they like, they buy it. In contrast, only 55% of 16 to 29-year olds feel as confident when they shop.

Younger generations are also much more likely to suffer buyer’s remorse. Post-purchase guilt affects 75% of young shoppers while only 35% of over 60-year olds feel guilty after buying.

In addition to age, guilt affects the genders differently: 64% of females feel guilty versus just 46% of males.

Our research into UK consumer spending habits revealed much more insight into generational shopping and payment differences. We’ve laid out some tasters below.

To find out more about the buying habits of consumers, alongside tips on how to best optimize your retail experience for your target audiences, download our free guide now.

The Deliberators: 16 to 29-year olds
This consumer group is very money conscious. They don’t spend their pennies easily and take their time to find the best deal. Surprisingly, this digitally-savvy bunch still enjoys the physical shopping experience of going in-store. However, a slow online checkout experience will turn them cold and they will shop elsewhere without a backward glance.  

The Browsers: 30 to 44-year olds
Compared to the Deliberators, this group is a little more relaxed about spending money. As the name suggests, they like to browse and consider their options before making a purchase  – but they are not afraid to buy. In fact, the majority (62%) say they are decisive shoppers and when they see something they like, they’ll buy it. That said, the Browsers still suffer from post-purchasing remorse, with two thirds (66%) feeling guilty when they make the decision to buy something.

The Spenders: 45 to 59-year olds

The Spenders are much more confident in their shopping habits than both the Deliberators and the Browsers. Over three quarters (76%) think that they’re careful with money and 60% consider themselves decisive shoppers. There is still some post-purchase guilt for half of the Spenders; of that half, 52% feel bad when they spend money that could be budgeted elsewhere, and 47% feel remorse for buying something they don’t actually need. But overall, most Spenders enjoy spending  – especially when they can justify the purchase.

The Assured: 60+ year olds
This group is the most comfortable spending money. They don’t always enjoy spending, but it doesn’t make them feel as anxious or guilty. When it comes to making purchases, this generation is confident in their decisions. Older shoppers don’t spend ages deciding whether to buy something or not; if they like it or need it, they buy it. Social media has little to no impact on this group’s buying cycle.

Make payments easy
Consumer trends show that UK shoppers are understandably careful when it comes to spending money. This goes for both young and old, male and female. They deliberate long enough over their purchasing decisions, so naturally there’s nothing more frustrating than a bad online checkout process. In fact, for 57% of our respondents, a slow payment process would either drive them away, make them reluctant to return to the brand, or return but only after looking at other options.

Shopping online should be made as easy as possible for customers – from the moment they open the browser to receiving the confirmation email. A frictionless, secure and intuitive payment process is crucial to gaining your customer’s trust and interest – so make sure you don’t fall at the final hurdle and let your customers leave without your product. At, we help online retailers meet their customers’ needs by optimizing their payments process to keep pace with rapidly evolving demands.