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Third of Brits put spending on hold due to Brexit

Third of Brits put spending on hold due to Brexit

KPMG UK research finds that 30% of the UK public have changed their spending as a result of Brexit uncertainties.

Paula Smith

Partner and Head of Banking and Capital Markets

KPMG in the UK


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  • A third of Brits have tightened their belts due to Brexit uncertainty with 22% avoiding big purchases
  • Brits have pulled back from investing in stocks & shares, choosing the safety of savings instead
  • Londoners are more conscious of their Brexit budgets than the rest of the UK 

KPMG UK research finds that 30% of the UK public have changed their spending as a result of Brexit uncertainties. A fifth (22%) have avoided making big ticket purchases with almost one in ten (9%) missing out on overseas holidays and 6% avoiding investing in the economy via stocks & shares. Meanwhile, 8% of people have put more money into savings ‘just in case’.  

Paula Smith, Head of Banking, KPMG UK says: “It is clear people are uncertain about the future, spending and investing less while saving more. However, whilst people work to protect their finances from Brexit uncertainties, interest rates remain stubbornly low so savings aren’t really working for people.  The business world has been cautious about investing for growth since the referendum and that’s clearly playing through into the real economy and people’s financial confidence.”

Regionally, Brexit wariness seems to be most prevalent in London, where almost half (48%) have postponed a big purchase or added to their savings. Unlike the rest of the country, foreign holidays are not the main sacrifice, investing in stocks & shares is, at 17%. One in 20 (6%) Londoners even delayed a wedding due to Brexit, that’s three times the national average.

KPMG has also found that men are much more cautious about their money in light of Brexit than women, with over a third (35%) of men changing their money management and only one in four (25%) women doing the same. Twelve percent of men have delayed buying a new home or making renovations, almost double the number of women who have taken the same precautions (7%). Whilst 3% of men have admitted to changing wedding plans amid Brexit uncertainty, women aren’t letting Brexit interfere with their upcoming nuptials, as none said they had put a wedding on hold.

Linda Ellett, UK Head of Consumer Markets, KPMG UK adds:

“These figures bring to light just how much Brexit has impacted people’s everyday lives. We can see this in the way that people are delaying significant purchases such as new cars or foreign holidays. When looking at travel and holidays in particular, fears around flight paths and border controls are clearly playing out in people’s actions, and of course the fall in the value of sterling won’t have done much to entice people overseas either. For these consumer businesses, the focus has to be on remaining agile so as to ride this wave of uncertainty. Those that can achieve this may even benefit from pent up demand when clarity finally does return to both businesses and consumers.”                                             

Brexit fears are affecting younger people’s spending the most, as almost half (46%) of 18 to 34 year-olds have delayed big purchases or put more money into savings. Those aged 35 and over have focussed more on saving ahead of Brexit while those over 55 are the least fazed, with only one in five (19%) having changed their spending habits at all. Parents with young children are also amongst the most concerned, with foreign holidays (15%), new cars (14%) and home renovations (10%) being most commonly sacrificed.




1 Research conducted by Opinium among 2000 adults between 19th and 22nd July 2019

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About KPMG in the UK

KPMG LLP, a UK limited liability partnership, operates from 22 offices across the UK with approximately 16,300 partners and staff.  The UK firm recorded a revenue of £2.338 billion in the year ended 30 September 2018. KPMG is a global network of professional firms providing Audit, Tax, and Advisory services. It operates in 154 countries and has 200,000 professionals working in member firms around the world. The independent member firms of the KPMG network are affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative ("KPMG International"), a Swiss entity.  Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such.

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Case study:

Name: Richard

Lives: Leicester

Age: Late 20s

Richard was due to take a holiday to Europe towards the end of the summer but has put it off due to fears that Brexit might cause disruptions and complications to his plans. Richard explains: “There’s been a lot of talk about what might happen when we actually leave the EU, so when the Brexit deadline was extended we decided to postpone our holiday plans until there is some more certainty. No one actually knows what will happen if we leave without a deal.” 

Aside from missing a holiday, Richard is also anxious about his future as he fears Brexit could cause disruption for his employer who is reliant on imports from Europe. He explains: “My employer provides quarterly updates on Brexit, but I still feel a general sense of unease about the future.”

Richard on holiday

Richard on a recent holiday in France

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