A quarter of consumers in markets around the world ‘often struggle to make ends meet’
March 8th, 2024, Lesley Simeon

A quarter of consumers in markets around the world ‘often struggle to make ends meet’

‘I work all night, I work all day, to pay the bills I have to pay’, ABBA sang all those years ago. But how many of us manage to hold on to a penny or two to treat ourselves to a luxury? And how many are exhausting all their earnings on essentials? That’s exactly what we’re asking consumers across 17 international markets in our latest survey.

A recent YouGov survey asked consumers how they would describe their financial situation. More than a quarter (28%) told us that they were either relatively or very comfortable financially. But for the rest the picture is somewhat less rosy. 

For example, nearly two in five consumers across these markets (38%) say they can normally comfortably cover the essentials, but do not often have money for luxuries. And while nearly a quarter (23%) say they can only just afford their essential costs and often struggle to make ends meet, it’s worse still for others.

A further 6% of respondents across markets say they cannot afford their essential costs and often have to go without things like food and heating.

Cannot afford essential costs

Consumers in the UAE (11%) and India (10%) lead in saying they cannot afford essential costs and often make do without basics like food and heating. France (8%) and Australia (8%) are some of the other markets where consumers are most likely to be in similar situations.

Can only just afford essentials, struggle to makes ends meet

Consumers in France (38%) are the most likely across markets to say they can only just afford essentials and often have to struggle to make ends meet. Those in Hong Kong, Canada and the UAE (28% each) follow. 

Under a quarter of Americans (22%) and fewer than two in five Brits (18%) say the same – that they can only afford essentials and struggle to make ends meet.

Can just afford essential costs, often no money for luxuries

Consumers in Poland (50%) account for the largest proportion of those who say they can only normally comfortably cover essential costs and have no money for luxuries. Hong Kongers (49%), Spanish (44%), Indonesians (44%) and Singaporeans (44%) follow Poles in saying so.

In the US, 31% of Americans say they can just afford essentials, with no room for luxuries. In Great Britain as well, two in five (40%) respondents describe their financial situation in a similar way. 

Relatively comfortable financially 

Swedes (38%) and Danes (32%) lead across markets in saying they are relatively comfortable financially. Within Asia, Singaporeans (24%) are most likely to say the same. 

Nearly one in ten consumers in France (9%) claim to be relatively comfortable financially – the least likely across markets to say so. A quarter of Americans (25%) agree too, and so do nearly three in ten Brits (29%). 

Very comfortable

Finally, Denmark is the only market where a double-digit proportion of consumers (17%) claim to be very comfortable financially. Germans (9%) follow Danes in describing their financial situation as very comfortable.

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Methodology: YouGov Surveys: Serviced provide quick survey results from nationally representative or targeted audiences in multiple markets. The data is based on surveys of adults aged 18+ years in 17 markets with sample sizes varying between 501 and 2023 for each market. All surveys were conducted online in December 2023. Data from each market uses a nationally representative sample apart from Mexico and India, which use urban representative samples, and Indonesia and Hong Kong, which use online representative samples. Learn more about YouGov Surveys: Serviced.