THE spending slowdown blighting UK retailers was highlighted today in a survey suggesting most Britons were focused on saving money and reducing debts.
Financial services firm More Than said just 12% of respondents were preparing for a major purchase, compared with the 27% more likely to be paying off debts and the 32% who are currently trying to save money.
The trend towards belt- tightening was endorsed by further findings in the first release of the quarterly study, with 20% reporting that confidence in their financial situation had fallen in the past three months.
The worst hit areas were the East Midlands and West Midlands - at 22% and 21% respectively - after the collapse of MG Rover affected confidence.
More Than said the survey, which involved more than 1,000 respondents, also found that 24% of Britons were not confident about their financial situation.
Graham Hollebon, head of personal finance at More Than, said: "People are clearly sensitive to the potential for their personal finances to take a bit of a knock over the coming months and it is encouraging that many are looking to reduce debt as a first response to this."
B&Q owner Kingfisher highlighted the struggle facing UK retailers last week when it warned first quarter profits were likely to be 15% lower than in 2004.
The group, which is Europe's biggest home improvement retailer, blamed the drop on poor weather and weak consumer confidence in its core UK market. The update caused shares in the retail sector to fall by more than 3% on Wednesday.