Brexit is the biggest concern for almost half of British consumers in 2019, new research shows.
A total of 48% of those surveyed said Brexit topped their list of worries, followed by a weaker economy and a lack of savings, data from Natwest and Retail Economics indicates.
The Outlook for UK Retail 2019 report also found that in the next 10 years non-food online spending will account for 50% of total sales, leading to an overcapacity of physical retail space of around 20%.
Chief executive of Retail Economics Richard Lim said: “The ongoing channel shift to online presents a particular challenge to bricks-and-mortar business models, as the performance of physical assets become increasingly polarised. In many cases, retailers are burdened with too many stores, unsuitable space and inflexible lease structures.
”I fail to recall a more challenging time to accurately predict an industry’s future. Unprecedented uncertainty persists around the Brexit deal, the political landscape and the magnitude of its potential disruption to the UK economy.”
A total of 41% of consumers are expecting their finances to weaken in 2019, and as a result 35% of respondents said they will spend less on experiences such as eating out and going to the cinema.
Head of retail and leisure at NatWest David Scott said: “There is nothing more uncertain than what Brexit will look like. Consumer confidence remains shaky at present, though we think the outlook for consumer spending will improve as inflation falls towards our target of 2%.
”In fact, by the final quarter of this year – we expect real wage growth to be up by 1.3%. This presents the retail industry with an opportunity to attract and, in many cases, re-attract custom.”