46% of UK consumers state inflation and cost of living as their top concerns in January 2022, Nielsen reports

As UK consumers emerge from the recent wave of restrictions and settle into 2022, 85% of UK consumers claim to have reevaluated their priorities since before the pandemic, as 41% claim to have experienced job or income loss as a result of COVID-19, reveals new insight released today by NielsenIQ in its global Consumer Outlook 2022 study, which assesses key consumer priorities and concerns in 2022 and how this could impact spending behaviour.

COVID-19’s impact goes well beyond a health pandemic and has caused economic disruption for multiple UK households. According to NielsenIQ, only 8% of Brits said they were able to save money and now feel more financially secure.

With this in mind, UK consumers are preparing for more future uncertainties in 2022, with nearly half planning for the future and saving for unforeseen circumstances (47%). 46% of UK consumers also stated inflation and cost of living as their top concerns in January 2022 – up from 33% in November 2021.

In terms of where UK consumers expect to be spending more in 2022, utilities, such as electricity, gas and phone bills (47%) was the top result for many Brits, followed by groceries (37%). As more consumers get accustomed to a hybrid working style, home improvement and transport costs (23%) both took third place. With continued pessimism about the pandemic ending, UK consumers believe that they will spend less on out of home dining (41%), out of home entertainment (37%) and  international holidays (37%).

Top 5 areas consumers will spend more in 2022Top 5 areas consumers will spend less in 2022
Utilities (47%)Out of home dining (41%)
Groceries (37%)Out of home entertainment (37%)
Home improvement / transport costs (23%)International holidays (37%)
Food delivery (21%)Clothing and apparel (33%)
Paying off debt / in home entertainment (20%)Domestic holidays (32%)

As COVID-19 impacts have dominated consumer lifestyles over the last two years, many Brits anticipate that it will still be a factor in their lives over the next 12 months, with half continuing to exercise some caution, whilst just 26% will carry on with their lives without any fear. 23% believe that stricter vigilance is necessary, regardless of low infection rates.  Over half (56%) of UK consumers believe that COVID-19 impacts, such as infections and restrictions, will still continue to 2023 and beyond.

With this in mind, NielsenIQ data reveals that health and wellness remains the primary concern for UK consumers in 2022. 55% of Brits believe their physical health will be more important to them over the next 12 months, followed by mental health (53%) and stress management (49%). Moreover, almost half (48.9%) of consumers surveyed highlighted that sustainability and environmental practises would be more important to them in 2022.

Top 5 areas that will be more important to consumers in 2022%
Physical wellness55%
Mental wellness53%
Stress management, relaxation & sleep49%
Sustainability & environmental practises48.9%
Planning for the future / saving for unforeseen circumstances47%

Rachel White, managing director, NielsenIQ UK and Ireland, said: “When you dig deeper into what those priorities are and how it will change purchasing behaviour, you quickly conclude that our COVID-19 experiences are influencing what’s important. Factors like mental health, physical health, and managing stress are at the top of the list because these are the areas that COVID-19 has put pressure on.”

White continues: “The last two years have seen an increased level of uncertainty and it is not surprising that in this current economic climate consumers are concerned about the cost of living. Priorities are changing and whilst a meal out, takeaway or holiday may have once been a straightforward decision for some, consumers will be looking to prioritise and balance what is necessary versus what is nice to have. The ability to meet these new consumer needs will be key for manufacturers and retailers in 2022.”