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Surging costs are causing European consumers to cut back on sustainable choices

Intrum’s annual European Consumer Payment Report, published today, paints a gloomy picture of financial wellbeing and economic outlook of consumers in Europe. With rapidly increasing costs of living, consumers are cutting back on more sustainable goods and services to manage their household finances. financial wellbeing europe

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Intrum’s European Consumer Payment Report (ECPR), where 24,000 European consumers are having their say about payment behaviours and economic outlook, shows that the record-high increases in the cost of living have set off a wave in bill-anxiety, forcing consumers to search widely for potential cost-savings.

Two in three respondents (67 per cent) say they would like to buy more sustainable goods and services, but the rising cost of living makes it challenging for them to do so. Six in 10 consumers are changing how they spend money and an equally sized share say that, because of inflation and the rising cost of living, they now struggle to pay a premium for sustainable products. Fifty four per cent of the respondents who will be changing their behaviour say they plan to shop more in discount stores in the next year, which rises to 70 per cent in Romania and Denmark.

Other sectors that we can expect to see affected by changing consumer spending patterns are not-for-profits and charities, with one in five of those changing their spending behaviour saying they will give less to charity organisations in the upcoming 12 months.

“The cost-of-living crunch has understandably made consumers who struggle to make ends meet look for discounts, with less room to spend price premiums for sustainable products. This can create additional challenges for governments, businesses and NGOs striving to keep sustainable consumption and the green transition on top of the agenda,” says Vanessa Söderberg, Global Sustainability Director at Intrum.

The ECPR findings show, however, that most consumers will still ‘punish’ companies that they believe to be prejudiced, such as discriminating against consumers due to a racial or socioeconomic profile (61 per cent say they would do this).

Other key findings in European Consumer Payment Report 2022 include:

Consumer confidence is lower now than in the darkest days of lockdown

  • Consumers are feeling more pessimistic about the future than at any point since we started tracking their responses in 2019.
  • Unlike in recent years, richer countries and older consumers are more likely to be affected (63 per cent of consumers in France and the UK are worse off, as are 62 per cent of Gen X, compared with an average of 59 per cent.)

Inflation and lack of confidence is impacting consumer spending patterns

  • Six in 10 European consumers say they have become increasingly aware of unnecessary costs
  • Consumers who are changing their behaviour are cutting back on meals out to compensate for rising prices, which is bad news for the hospitality sector and others that were starting to regain their footing after the impact of Covid
  • Three in 10 struggle to make ends meet and expect to default on a utility bill in the next 12 months. An equally sized share has already missed out on a payment over the past year.
  • Consumers who expect to miss bill payments in the next 12 months say they are most likely to default on e-commerce and online store bills

About The European Consumer Payment Report 2022 financial wellbeing europe

The European Consumer Payment Report 2022 is an instrument for gaining insight into European consumers’ everyday lives, their spending and ability to manage their household finances on a monthly basis. The report is based on an external survey conducted by Longitude in 24 countries in Europe. A total of 24,011 consumers participated in the 2022 edition of the survey. The fieldwork for the study was conducted between July and September 2022.


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