This report, undertaken on behalf of Which? and published in early 2012, continued our focus on the UK recessionary climate and consumer responses to the financial crisis and associated economic malaise. A context of austerity, low growth, rising inflation, falling housing prices, unemployment and low consumer confidence have created a difficult climate for individuals and businesses.

A key part of the output was a meaningful analysis of what had been termed the Squeezed Middle, with nuances identified through analysis of the survey. The Squeezed Middle was found in the data, but we also discovered that different people experience different levels of squeeze, and that importantly, this squeeze is not 100% caused by the context of financial crisis – leading to the creation of the concept of ‘3D squeeze’ highlighting that financial pressures are not a simple function of income alone, but as a result of pre-downturn financial habits or major life events for example.