Back to January 2017

Looking forward to 2017? Leeds Building Society members start the new year with confidence

The end of one year and start of the next is traditionally a time to take stock and look forward.

But after one of the most politically tumultuous years for decades, it wouldn’t be surprising for people to begin 2017 with a sense of uncertainty or even trepidation.

So we asked Leeds Building Society members* how they were feeling at the turn of the year.

Despite Brexit looming, a controversial US President-elect, and ongoing international instability and humanitarian crises, members were reasonably hopeful about the UK’s future, with 40% of respondents feeling very optimistic about the coming year. A further 14% were optimistic meaning just over half (54%) felt positive about 2017, compared to 27% who were very pessimistic.

Personal finances and Brexit

Respondents were not overly concerned by the impact on their prospects of Britain leaving the EU, with more than a quarter (27%) expecting Brexit to have little or no effect on their financial planning, for reasons including the strength of the UK economy and financial decisions they’d made already. One in five (20%) felt more gloomy, fearing interest rate volatility and inflation, as well as unfavourable exchange rates affecting future holidays.

Perhaps predictably, Brexit was the most repeated response when members were asked what they were looking forward to most and least in 2017, with almost as many people apprehensive as optimistic about what will happen next.

Most missed celebrity

Last year held a dubious distinction for the deaths of so many prominent figures from the worlds of entertainment, music and sport.

In our survey, Terry Wogan was the most-missed celebrity, with 19% of the vote, closely followed by Victoria Wood with 17%, although 23% of respondents did not choose a favourite.

Sporting surprises

Shocks also reverberated through the sporting world in 2016, with Leicester City’s unexpected Premier League triumph the most memorable sporting moment of the year for 12% of members. Andy Murray’s second Wimbledon title and his ascent to tennis world number one was more memorable for 17% of members but both were topped by Team GB’s exceptional medal haul at the Rio Olympics and Paralympics, chosen by 37% of respondents.

A low for the high street?

After the collapse of retail stalwarts such as BHS, almost two in five respondents (38%) forecast more large chains would shut in 2017, and more than four out of five (81%) believe online shopping will continue to grow in popularity. Two thirds (66%) predicted more high street shops would close but an optimistic one in six (17%) expects to see more independent shops opening as the mix of stores changes.

Almost three quarters of those surveyed (73%) suggested free or cheaper parking could help to revitalise the traditional high street, with keener prices and better service (53% and 48% respectively) other popular ideas to draw back more shoppers.

“A new year is a time for fresh starts and looking forward,” said Richard Fearon, Leeds Building Society’s Chief Commercial Officer.

“However, as the world is likely to remain unsettled economically and politically for some time to come, it’s difficult to make predictions.

“We’ll continue to focus on our members, working hard to understand their needs and surpass their expectations in 2017, and wish them all a happy and prosperous New Year.”

Ends

Notes to Editors

*The survey, which was undertaken through Leeds Building Society’s customer panel 'TalkingPoint', sought the views of 205 members in the month of December 2016.

Leeds Building Society won the awards for Best Building Society Savings Provider and Innovation in Personal Finance (Part and part mortgages) at the 2016 Moneyfacts Awards.

Leeds Building Society operates throughout the UK, Gibraltar and Ireland and has assets of £14.9bn (at 30th June 2016). The Society’s head office has been based in the centre of Leeds since 1886.