The Brexit debate seems never ending, but what do shoppers think will be the outcome of Brexit and how it will impact them? We recently surveyed 1,000 shoppers, asking for their perception of the UK food and grocery sector post-Brexit. Here are some of the key headlines and how they can affect c-store retailers, writes HIM’s Giorgio Rigali.

Britons are feeling pessimistic about their personal finances ahead of Brexit – 43% of UK consumers believe that their personal finances will be worse as a result of Brexit, with younger age groups in particular feeling apprehensive. Concern over increasing food prices is contributing to this. In fact, 74% of UK consumers believe that food prices will increase after Brexit, with one in four expecting food prices to rise a lot.

Despite this belief that food prices will rise, most consumers (64%) are not planning on making any changes in their shopping habits in order to prepare for Brexit, but 13% of consumers are planning on “stocking up” on food.

Food and drink spend in retail is actually one of the last things to be cut compared with other household expenses, but household cuts are being made, with one in four consumers planning on saving money or reducing their household expenses to prepare for Brexit.

A lack of availability will force shoppers towards online shopping – 75% of UK consumers think that stores will have emptier shelves and less choice than before Brexit. Supermarkets are predicted to be most at risk, with 44% expecting emptier shelves in this channel, but convenience is not far behind at 41%, and most consumers believe that online shopping will have the best availability following Brexit, with 74% expecting no reduction in choice and availability through online channels.

This survey, unsurprisingly, paints a negative picture of the impact of Brexit from consumers’ viewpoint. High prices and low stock volumes are the biggest fears that retailers need to work hard to eradicate. Highlighting the value offered and clear signposting are going to be critical.

The main positive is that consumers say they are unlikely to change their shopping habits, so the opportunities to drive footfall and basket value will remain beyond Brexit.