UK consumers 'very thoughtful' on big ticket spending -Asda chairman

A shopper walks through the meat section at the Asda superstore in High Wycombe

LONDON (Reuters) -Britons are thinking very hard about spending on so-called big ticket items, the chairman of supermarket Asda said on Tuesday.

"There is no doubt about it, public confidence is down, people are thoughtful about spending money because they have to be, people are very thoughtful about big ticket spending," Stuart Rose told LBC radio.

Britain's consumers have largely defied high inflation and rising borrowing costs to keep up their spending in 2023.

However, industry data published on Tuesday showed British consumer spending growth lost pace last month, adding to signs of a weakening economy.

Rose, a veteran of the retail sector who was formerly the boss of Marks & Spencer, said the gap between the rich and poor in Britain had widened.

"The rich have got even richer, the middle classes are actually doing not too badly, those at the bottom of the pile are having a tough time," he said.

Rose, who campaigned against the UK's withdrawal from the European Union, said Brexit had hurt the economy.

"You've seen every single day now things that have not happened that we were promised would happen," he said, giving the example of the lack so far of a trade deal with India.

"We've got to find a way of getting this economy growing and growing it overseas and exporting."

(Reporting by James Davey, Editing by Kylie MacLellan)