British shoppers are more ethical than their European counterparts, according to a report by research firm IGD.

It found that UK consumers are more likely to be influenced by factors including the environment, animal welfare and fair trade when they buy goods.

Around 41% of Brits have bought ethical products, compared with 34% in Germany, 31% in France and 12% in Spain.

IGD chief executive Joanne Denney-Finch said the report provided evidence that UK consumers are retaining ethical concerns despite the recession.

The report also found that 23% of shoppers believe able to make a difference through their shopping decisions, compared with 44% two years ago.

Denney-Finch said: “After the financial crisis, now that consumers have had a chance to sit back and take stock, they feel that they don’t have enough empowerment. They feel that they have no control over some of these big issues.”

This increases the need for retailers to be more transparent about the sourcing of products, she said.

Asda has just launched an initiative, which includes installing webcams throughout parts of its business, which it says will make it the first genuinely transparent company. However, according to reports, the grocer, along with rival Tesco, has slashed the number of organic lines it stocks by at least a third in the recession. Both retailers claimed shoppers had ditched the products for more affordable lines.

IGD’s report also found that the financial crisis may have permanently changed shopping habits, with nearly a third of shoppers saying that, in five years’ time, they would be shopping more at discounters, such as Aldi and Lidl.