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Global confidence crisis as blame game begins

Global confidence crisis as blame game begins

Ahead of next week’s G20 summit, a worldwide survey released today shows that the balance of public opinion in 18 out of 19 countries is now against free trade and in favour of greater government regulation, and the United States is now the only remaining ‘free-trade-friendly’ nation in the world.

Anger at governments and the financial services industry is growing, accompanied by pessimism and belt-tightening on a worldwide scale: 86% of consumers in the 19-country worldwide study believe their country is heading into recession or already in one, while here in the UK, close to half (43%) of households are now reporting that they are struggling to make ends meet.

The Global Confidence Crisis Report was launched at the International Research Institutes Conference in The Hague, and presents the results of survey research conducted within the past six weeks among sixteen thousand consumers across the developed world.

Blame game begins

Worldwide, people are most likely to blame their own governments for current economic problems, but in the UK, there is some good news for Gordon Brown, as far more people here are currently placing the most blame on banks or corporate greed (47%), while only 26% are placing most blame on the current Labour government.

Nonetheless, public demands for further government intervention are not going to let up - two-thirds of the British public (66%) feel that the government has still not done enough to combat the crisis, while only 6% think it has already done too much.

Middle classes cutting back as Britain looks forward to scruffier times

Internationally, it is the poorest households who are having to make the most cut-backs. But in the UK, unusually, it is the middle classes who are suffering the widest range of lifestyle impacts, with middle income households most likely to have cancelled holiday plans (25% vs. 21% nationwide), to be working longer hours (23% vs. 14% nationwide), to be dining out less (72% vs. 63% nationwide), or having to delay retirement plans (9% vs. 6% nationwide). The UK’s middle-income households are also most fearful of unemployment (50% in the middle income quintile are worrying about job losses in the household, compared to 40% nationwide).

The study also revealed that the cash-strapped British are the most likely in the world to be saving money by buying fewer new clothes, with women in particular (74%) saying clothing budgets have been reduced in the face of the crisis.

Overall, UK women are making more sacrifices than men in response to the economic crisis. Men are more likely to be maintaining their personal spending, but are also more likely to be increasing their working hours.

Commenting on the findings, Charlotte Cornish, Managing Director of FDS International, said:

“So far, UK consumers have been mainly focussing their efforts on bargain-hunting and finding cheaper alternatives – a notable exception being new clothing, where large numbers are indicating they have simply stopped buying it. 2009 is looking like a year of ‘make-do and mend’ for middle Britain, and a tough year for high street retailers.”

Cornish continued: “Our global study reminds us that things could be worse - outside Western Europe, as many as one in five are now missing out on medicines they need and cutting down on the amount of food they are buying. Without the NHS and unemployment benefits, UK consumers would be far more fearful of looming rises in unemployment.”


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