An update on European consumer sentiment: Mixed feelings remain

Consumers in Europe reported mostly mixed feelings about the economy in November, with a decrease in optimism from the previous quarter. These sentiments translated into various behaviors—such as trading down—that were also evident earlier in the year. Meanwhile, environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors continued to influence consumer behavior in Europe. The following five charts highlight findings from our latest ConsumerWise research in five European countries: France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

Consumer confidence

Mixed feelings about the economy lingered while optimism declined.

Consumer spending

European consumers mostly expected to maintain their spending.

Money-saving strategies

Consumers traded down to cope with price increases.

Intent to splurge

Dining out was the most popular splurge category.

ESG importance

Health and the environment were key factors in purchasing decisions.

European consumers closed out 2023 engaging in many of the same purchasing behaviors they had exhibited throughout the year. As the new year unfolds—with questions still lingering about the state of the global economy and geopolitics—consumer goods and retail businesses will have to continue to deliver value to discerning consumers. Check out our ConsumerWise page and contact us for more information and additional insights.

Jessica Moulton is a senior partner in McKinsey’s London office, where Gizem Ozcelik is a specialist and Nadya Snezhkova is a consultant; Thomas Rüdiger Smith is a partner in the Copenhagen office; and Anja Weissgerber is the leader of strategy and operations for McKinsey’s Consumer Packaged Goods and Retail Practices globally and is based in the Berlin office.


This article was edited by Alexandra Mondalek, an editor in the New York office.

December 4, 2023

An update on European consumer sentiment: Uncertainty lingers

Consumers in Europe reported mixed feelings about the economy in August. Those feelings manifested into a range of behaviors—for example, price became a more important factor in purchase decisions. A greater emphasis on the omnichannel experience, as well as health and environmental considerations, also characterized European consumer behavior in the third quarter of 2023. The following six charts highlight findings from our latest ConsumerWise research in five European countries: France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

Consumer confidence

Consumer optimism held steady as mixed feelings emerged.

Consumer spending

European consumers expected to reduce spend on nonessential items.

Money-saving strategies

Consumers changed their behavior to cope with price increases.

Intent to splurge

Generational differences emerged in consumers’ intent to splurge.

Omnichannel behavior

Consumers shopped across channels.

Environmental, social, and governance factors

Health and the environment were key factors in purchasing decisions.

This snapshot of the European consumer reflects the complicated world around them, one in which uncertainty lingers. The survey results indicate that value may become a more important purchase consideration, but certainly not the only one. European consumers are open to new experiences and to discovering brands across a variety of channels, creating valuable opportunities for consumer goods and retail businesses across the region. Check out our ConsumerWise page, and contact us for more information and additional insights.

Jessica Moulton is a senior partner in McKinsey’s London office, where Nadya Snezhkova is a consultant; Thomas Rüdiger Smith is a partner in the Copenhagen office; and Anja Weissgerber is the leader of strategy and operations for McKinsey’s Consumer Packaged Goods and Retail Practices globally and is based in the Berlin office.

The authors wish to thank the ConsumerWise team, including Christina Adams, Kari Alldredge, Emmeline Hale, Andrea Leon, Andrew Pitakos, and Jonathon Rivait, for their contributions to this article.


This article was edited by Alexandra Mondalek, an associate editor in the New York office.

July 14, 2023

High hopes despite high prices: An update on European consumer sentiment

To save or to splurge? That is the question confronting European consumers, who have the most optimistic economic outlook they have had in at least a year, in the face of continuing price increases. For some, the answer is “both.” The following five charts highlight findings from our latest ConsumerWise research survey, conducted in May 2023 in five European countries: France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

Consumer confidence

Money-saving strategies

Consumer spending

Trade-down actions

Intent to splurge


The snapshot of the European consumer today reflects the tension between intending to spend and save under the pressure of higher prices, albeit with more nuance than one might find in a typical economics textbook. These sentiment data indicate that value may become a more important driver of purchases—but certainly not the only one. Check out our ConsumerWise page and contact us for more information and additional insights.

Jessica Moulton is a senior partner in McKinsey’s London office, where Nadya Snezhkova is a consultant; Thomas Rüdiger Smith is a partner in the Copenhagen office; and Anja Weissgerber is the leader of strategy and operations for McKinsey’s Consumer Packaged Goods and Retail Practices globally and is based in the Berlin office.

The authors wish to thank the ConsumerWise team, including Christina Adams, Kari Alldredge, Emmeline Hale, Andrea Leon, Andrew Pitakos, and Jonathon Rivait, for their contributions to this article.


This article was edited by Alexandra Mondalek, an associate editor in the New York office.