UK Economic and Consumer Trends for June 2010

by the Countries and Consumers team.

Hot topics in June 2010:

  • Crossing Europe in an electric car.
  • Online retail sales are skyrocketing.
  • Foods that target people with food intolerances.

Crossing Europe in an Electric Car

A small team of reporters from the BBC began a month-long all-electric car journey across Europe at the beginning of June. The purpose of the tour is to highlight to consumers the dawning reality of electric vehicles. The programmes they make will be available globally on the BBC’s website and they will also be regularly blogging/tweeting their EV experiences.

The team of four departed London on June the 7th for the British port of Harwich, where they caught a ferry to Denmark; before driving across the Danish islands to Norway, then onto Sweden, Austria, Germany, Lichtenstein, Switzerland, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and others along the way before returning to London in July.

The team is driving a THINK City car, a ready-to-market fully electric car. THINK CEO Richard Canny said that the journey “will prove that an EV can be just as versatile as a conventional car, but at the same time much more cost effective, efficient and friendly to the environment.”

Asosiety – Online Retail Sales Skyrocketing

Online fashion retailer ASOS (short for As-Seen-on-Screen) has reported a huge 44% rise in profits. It has also predicted even better growth this year. Explaining why this surge occurred despite the troubles of high street stores, Nick Robertson, chief executive of ASOS, said the shift towards internet shopping among young fashion consumers was “bigger than the economic cycle”.

ASOS – targeted at 16- to 34-year-olds with clothes and accessories styled on those worn by celebrities – reported profits leaping to £20.3 million in the year to March. Mr Robertson said the results could have been even stronger, as the group was overly cautious with stock levels last year. Mr. Robertson said ASOS had resumed stocking and said sales were soaring in the first nine weeks of the New Year, up 36% in the UK and an enormous 118% internationally.

“Free from” foods Target People with Food Intolerances

UK supermarkets have said that so-called “free from” foods aimed at people with food intolerances were the fastest growing category over the last 12 months. According to a statement by the Food and Drink Innovation Network from June 2010, the gluten free market increased by well over 20% in 2009 to hit £100 million in sales and the number of products available has doubled since 2007.

Five % of all new food and drink products launched last year were labelled as gluten-free. This may be due to statistics such as one by the charity Allergy UK, which claims that 45% of all people in Britain could suffer from food intolerances. Some scientists query these estimates, suggesting that many people have incorrectly self-diagnosed themselves as having allergies. According to the Telegraph, Marks & Spencer is the latest retailer to introduce a major new range to attract shoppers with intolerances – either real or perceived.