Cash worries 'reach all-time high'
The number of British shoppers who feel they have no spare cash has reached an all-time high, according to a new survey.
A total of 32% of people felt they had no money left over as they are concerned over rising utility bills, the economy and increasing fuel prices.
Shoppers are tightening their belts, with 71% changing their shopping habits and 65% switching to cheaper grocery brands to stay within their budgets.
Experts are predicting a boost in consumer confidence next year on the back of the London 2012 Olympics but, until then, their mood is expected to remain deflated.
Britain's second quarter consumer confidence index rose five points on the previous quarter to 72 as more people felt better about their job prospects and personal finances. But it remains down on all of last year, according to the latest Consumer Confidence Survey released by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and information and measurement firm Nielsen.
Nineteen per cent of people are optimistic about their job prospects, up from 16% on quarter one, but 73% remain pessimistic.
While 35% of people are confident about the state of their personal finances, up from 29% in quarter one, some 60% of Britons remain gloomy.
BRC director general Stephen Robertson said: "The squeeze on disposable incomes is getting tighter. A third of people said they have no spare cash, a new record high.
"Weakness in the economy and rising utility, fuel and food bills top consumers' concerns for the next six months. Even after paying out for essentials, households that do have spare cash are choosing to pay off debts and build up savings rather than spend on the high street.
"With finances under pressure, consumers are becoming increasingly savvy, with 65% saying they are switching to cheaper grocery brands, often own-brand labels, to stay within their budgets.Competition within the sector is helping to take the edge off price inflation with a larger number of promotions and discounts on offer."