As we gear up for the general election, Retail Week looks at its likely impact on consumer spending

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A cost-of-living crisis, bad weather and inflation have all impacted consumer spending of late.

But how much of an impact will the general election have on how and where shoppers splash their cash?

A majority of 49% of consumers feel downbeat about the upcoming election, compared with 37% who are feeling positive, according to a survey by YouGov commissioned by Havas Media Network (HMN). 

The survey of 1,500 individuals over the age of 18 in the UK, which looked at shifting consumer attitudes and behaviours during election periods, revealed that the most prevalent feeling across all age groups is uncertainty, with 26% of respondents feeling this way. 

HMN chief planning officer Jackie Lyons says that consumers distrust politicians, which will have an impact on every area of the economic landscape as the election campaign continues. 

She adds: “It’s unlikely to be a surprise to many that political distrust is set to permeate all areas of the economic landscape in the coming weeks.

“With 28% of consumers expecting brands to play a role but two-fifths thinking they shouldn’t, getting involved – or not – clearly carries risk. 

“There is no one-size-fits-all approach. But with challenge comes opportunity. With the cost of living remaining a top concern, the ongoing pursuit of equity to secure better prices and long-term profitability is imperative. And avoiding contributing to the trust deficit is paramount.”



The survey found that 21% of people will be cutting down on non-essential spending, while 16% will be reducing all spending and 14% will be more considered with their purchases due to the political uncertainty.

Younger groups were the most likely to be affected, with 73% of people aged between 18 and 24 years old agreeing that a change in government would affect their spending.

Within that figure, 20% say their spending would be affected a lot by a change in government, while 53% say any change would impact their spending a little.



One in five consumers across all age groups surveyed say they will pause big-ticket purchases to see what is going to happen in the election first.

Meanwhile, 45% of all respondents agree that the cost-of-living crisis means they will be spending less on entertainment and socialising this year.

Election season raises the age-old question of whether brands should be involved in politics and openly declare their stances.

The survey results show that 41% of consumers feel commercial brands should not be involved in politics, while 28% say it is important for brands to get involved.



Younger groups are more likely to feel it is important for brands to get involved in politics, with more than double the number (41%) of 18- to 44-year-olds feeling this way, compared with people aged 45 and over (17%). 

Meanwhile, 54% of people aged 45 and over believe it is not important for brands to be involved in politics, compared with 25% of people aged between 18 and 44.

Twice as many people say they would distrust rather than trust a commercial brand involved in politics, while 21% of respondents say their opinion of a brand would be impacted if it was openly supportive of a political party.