Consumers won’t be deterred from premium purchases by Brexit price rises

Centre for Retail Research report highlights polarisation of attitudes towards general spending

  • 61% of shoppers say they will not be discouraged from purchasing premium items if prices rise by up to 10%
  • 40% believe they will be ‘worse off’ post-Brexit, whilst 37% say they will ‘better off’

 LONDON, UK, 21st March 2017: New findings from the Centre for Retail Research and Rakuten Marketing, the leading digital marketing company, reveal the effect triggering Article 50 is likely to have on the premium brands market over the next two years and takes the temperature on consumer attitudes to retail spending in the coming months.

The report, which surveyed 1000 consumers across the UK, highlights the polarised views reflected in the referendum result.  Over the next six months, 37% of people are ‘very’ or ‘quite sure’ they will be better off, whilst 40% think they will be ‘worse off’ or ‘not better off’.

However, shoppers claim they will not stop purchasing premium products if prices have to rise as a result of Brexit. Recent figures show that prices in the UK are now rising at an annual rate of more than 3%. However, when faced with a price increase of even up to 10%, only 6% of Brits claim they would refuse to buy the item, whilst 62% would buy their premium brand anyway.

There is a tipping point though; the rise from a 10% increase to a 15% price increase was expected to make over a fifth (21%) of shoppers switch products.

In contrast, paying more for online delivery is an area that consumers will not compromise on. 57% of consumers are not prepared to pay more for online delivery.

Outlook for spending on premium brands divided

Whilst some consumers remain confident their spending on premium brands will remain buoyant, a similar number are cautious and believe Brexit will have a negative effect. Exactly half of shoppers expect to spend the same or more on premium products post Brexit, but 39% say they will spend less on these items.

Looking to foreign-produced premium brands, respondents were generally more pessimistic than optimistic about a drop in spending. Almost a third (29%) expect there could be reduced spending, and a further 10% expect a large reduction in spending on these products. Only 16% expect to spend more.

Consumers also divided on trust in luxury brands

38% think that Brexit will make no difference to consumers’ trust in premium brands produced outside the UK, but a third think there will be a ’large‘ or ’some‘ loss of trust. This is largest for handbag, casual apparel, and formal clothing brands but lowest for laptops, tablets, and smartphones.

Mark Haviland, EVP Global Development at Rakuten Marketing commented: “Whilst sentiment suggests that people will still purchase premium products if prices rise slightly, the viewpoints on what Brexit will do to spending on these brands overall is completely polarised. The customer segments marketers target are likely to be completely split in how they approach shopping over the next few years.

“Whether audiences are cautious or optimistic about the effects of the decision to leave the EU, retailers need to make use of data and programmatic targeting to engage these different groups in the way that is most relevant to them. Our findings make it clear that marketers must work hard to understand their customers better if they are to engage customers successfully in this unsettled market.”

Prof J A N Bamfield, the Director of the Centre for Retail Research said:  “Although there is a clear divide in opinion, negative attitudes about the effects of Brexit outweigh positive ones. However, when we look at consumers’ perception of how well off they will be in six months compared to two years’ time, their outlook is fairly stable suggesting that a crash in consumer confidence may not come. Ultimately though, we could see a change in living standards as a result of Brexit and this could affect brand loyalty as well as consumer buying behaviour, and retailers must be prepared for this.” 

­Notes to editors: The Centre for Retail Research conducted interviews with a representative sample of 1,000 respondents aged 18 years and over in February 2017. They represented as far as possible a cross section of the UK population, consisting of: 515 females and 485 males; a representative demographic sample by six different age groups; and, to prevent regional bias, 46.2% from the north of the UK and 53.6% from the south. The Referendum indicated sharp differences between regions in their attitude to Brexit, which explains the need to obtain a north:south regional spread of opinions and responses. The percentages in this press release have been rounded up to the nearest percent.

About Rakuten Marketing

Rakuten Marketing is the global leader in digital marketing solutions that empower marketers to realise the full potential of their campaigns across display, affiliate & social channels. Our clients are looking to work with a transparent partner who can help them increase the efficiency and performance of their campaigns. These campaigns are supported by a robust platform that includes our own attribution & retargeting technology, unique data and advanced user identification capabilities.

Integrated multichannel solutions, along with our unique data insights and unparalleled client focus, equip marketers to deliver ad experiences that engage and influence across a global network.

Rakuten Marketing is backed by Rakuten, Inc. one of the world’s leading Internet service companies. With UK offices in London and Brighton, the company is headquartered in New York City, with additional offices in Australia, Brazil, Japan, and throughout the United States. Further information can be found on Twitter or at

About The Centre for Retail Research

The Centre for Retail Research based in Nottingham England, carries out independent research in Europe and North America on customer spending trends, the changing retail marketplace, online retailing and the impact of technology on retail development. The Centre’s publication, Retail Futures 2018, examining the changing structure of UK retail, led to its Director giving evidence to a UK Parliamentary Select Committee and the Competition Committee of the EU. The Centre’s research and views are quoted widely on radio and TV and by major newspapers. Joshua Bamfield is a Member of the Royal Economics Society and a Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society. The Centre was established in 1997.

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