M&S’ Family Matters Index: UK optimism at its highest in two years
Family optimism is at its highest level in almost two years, according to M&S’ Family Matters Index – a quarterly tracker of the priorities, challenges, and ambitions of families across the UK.
With inflation levels falling and the summer holidays commencing there is a cautious sense of optimism emerging across the UK. Almost half of the population (45%) now feel optimistic about their family’s prospects for the next three months. This is a marked improvement when compared to September 2022’s record low (32%) and when inflation was as high as 10.8%. The Index also reveals one in three consumers (32%) now feel more in control of their families’ finances and are looking to make the most of the summer holidays – with 37% seeing the summer break as an opportunity to spend more quality time with loved ones.
Despite the cost of living being front of mind for four in five people, the prospect of warmer weather, exciting events and holidays are helping to drive a more positive outlook. This summer, almost half of the population (45%) have at least one event such as a wedding, sporting event or concert to look forward to and half of families are planning a staycation or holiday abroad and Europe is the destination of choice according to currency exchange data from M&S Bank.
This year, the UK started preparing for a busy summer of events as early as January, with search data from M&S showing that ‘holidays’ was a trending search term in the first month of the year and was +69% between April and June when compared to the same period last year.
With beach holidays accounting for over half (55%) of all international holidays, the retailer saw three consecutive record-breaking weeks for its Holiday Shop collection – with a spike in sales of beachwear (+46%), linen (+22%) and swimwear (+11%) between April and June. Current bestsellers include the Pure Cotton Textured Beach Shirt (£27.50) and Pure Linen Oversized Shirt (£35) indicating consumers are looking to keep cool and cover up. Searches for swimming costumes have also been +134% with the Scallop Plunge Swimsuits (£35) being a bestseller– with 38,000 sold to date.
Furthermore, value continues to be a priority this season with 62% placing this as their single top priority; this marks a 4% increase since January and correlates with shopping habits seen at M&S. M&S’ Remarksable value range – which is made-up of over 100 everyday staples from vitamin-D enriched soft white medium sliced bread loaf, 800g (70p) to Simply British Free Range Mixed Eggs, x6 (£1.25) – now features in 20% of M&S’ customer baskets. With over half of customers looking to eat out less (62%) or order fewer takeaways (52%) M&S has also expanded its popular Dine In offer with a permanent, always on Family Dine In Deal for £15 – a perfect alternative to make family meal times more fun.
Over half of the population (53%) are concerned about the health of their families, however, they are more determined than ever to do what they can to lead more healthy lifestyles. Doing more physical exercise (47%) and eating more healthily (46%) rank as top priorities– with nearly half (47%) focusing their approach to eating more healthily by eating a balance of different foods.
This summer, as part of M&S Food’s Eat Well Play Well partnership with the home nations’ football associations, M&S is encouraging customers to Follow the Flower in M&S stores, making it easier to spot healthier choices as part of a balanced diet.
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