chaz2Over the last couple of years, it’s become clear that we Brits continue to be a plucky lot, and despite the recession and the Coalition Crunch we’re still determined to enjoy ourselves and grab the chance to have a Big Night In with family and friends. It looks like the same old Dunkirk spirit, then. But what’s going on below the surface?

According to the experts at Mintel, we remain wary about the future, which is reflected in our spending habits and attitudes about what is ‘essential’. With further cuts to come, the general mindset is one of caution, with the biggest question of all being ‘what next?’ However, there is positivity too – Mintel’s researchers reckon people seemed to have moved away from the fear that pervaded much of the last 12 months.

More people are worried about their jobs and employment prospects than last year. At the same time, fewer are primarily concerned with the state of the economy. Financial pressures have eased to the point that nearly one in four adults describe their financial positions as ‘healthy’; but more than one third describe their situations as ‘tight’, are struggling or in trouble and a further 40% are just coping.

In Mintel’s words, some 12% of consumers are spending nothing on non-essentials, with 35% describing themselves as ‘very cautious’, 30% as ‘quite cautious’, and only 5% as ‘not at all cautious’.

For retailers, the bottom line is we might not be going out as much, but a substantial proportion of shoppers are still ready to party! You don’t need to spend a fortune – carbonated soft drinks and bagged snacks are two of the biggest mainstays of home entertaining, in sales value terms, and according to Mintel their sales have remained buoyant through the recession. Being pitched at affordable prices for all pockets is integral to bagged snacks and carbonates’ continued success.

Bagged snacks’ value sales have grown as a result of manufacturers making crisps healthier and hence more acceptable for everyday consumption, on one hand, and on the other, developing indulgent treats for adults. The result is the development of a substantial market for premium crisps and snacks sold at higher prices.

Despite the onslaught of energy drinks and other, newer soft drink sectors, carbonates’ resilience is proven. The recessionary environment seems to have been working against premium soft drinks but seems to have helped carbonates, as a ‘feelgood’ antidote to the general doom and gloom: consumers are going back to the products they know and trust.

So, make it your resolution to keep those fixtures stocked with products for the Big Night In, in 2011.

The Grocery Trader

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