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UK: Recession fosters fundamental consumer shift - Asda CEO

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Recession in the UK will be the catalyst for a fundamental shift in consumer buying habits, the CEO of Asda, the UK's second-largest supermarket chain, has warned.

Consumers have adopted a recession mentality and the reverberations of this will be felt over the longer term, said Andy Bond, speaking at a seminar organised jointly by Asda and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) yesterday (11 December).

"The era of conspicuous consumption is over," said Bond.

"Saving money by cutting out waste of all kinds will be the priority. I don't see this as being a short-term response to the recession but a fundamental shift that will see the emergence of a new breed of customer," Bond said.

Retailers and producers, he added, will have to work harder to prove that something is worth paying more for.

In drinks, he said Asda figures showed that sales of Schweppes Tonic water were up 7% year-on-year, while sales of Asda's own-label tonic water were up 46%.

Sales of still bottled water were down 15%, although sparkling was up 1% and flavoured varieties up 10%, in what Asda and CEBR termed as a growing trend of "I don't need to pay for something I can get for free".

Asda is owned by US retail giant WalMart.


Sectors: Soft drinks, Water

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