Pause for thought: The impact of the EU referendum on UK consumer sentiment

June 24, 2016

The UK today made history by voting to leave the European Union.

Toby Clark, Director of Research, EMEA at Mintel, comments on what the vote will mean for consumer spending in the UK:

“Mintel’s consumer confidence data shows the impact that uncertainty can have on consumer behaviour. Consumer sentiment showed signs of being held back before both the 2014 Independence Referendum in Scotland and the 2015 General Election. In both cases, sentiment rebounded once the results were clear. The difference then, though, was that the vote resolved much of the uncertainty. This time, the result will only have added to that uncertainty.

The truth is that it’s too early to be making sweeping predictions about changes in consumer behaviour. For most people, life goes on. They still need to buy groceries, they’ll still be heading to the pub to watch Euro 2016, and they’re still going to be taking their summer holidays. In the short-term at least, everyday spending is unlikely to change dramatically.

But that uncertainty will still have an effect on behaviour. Just as businesses will tend to hold back on major investments when the future looks uncertain, so too will consumers. Anyone thinking of buying a new house, a car or any other big ticket item will be re-assessing their decision in the light of this vote, and will be considering whether now is the right time to be making a major financial commitment. That’s not to say that they’re not going to make that commitment – but it will be giving them pause for thought.”

Mintel’s 40 year track record means that we are in the perfect position to assess the impact of the vote on consumer behaviour, both in the UK and globally.

Over the coming weeks, Mintel will be commissioning fresh research to analyse how the outcome of the vote has impacted on UK consumers’ financial confidence and how key consumer markets are likely to be affected. If you’d like to be sent a copy of this research once it’s available, please email

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