JWT London launched its eighth quarterly Austerity Index, a measure of how Britain’s economic downturn is affecting consumers.

J. Walter Thompson London has just launched its eighth quarterly Austerity Index, a measure of how Britain’s economic downturn is affecting consumers.

Using SONAR, J. Walter Thompson’s proprietary online tool, the Planning Foresight team polled 800 British consumers on five metrics—standard of living, “surviving or thriving,” efforts to restrict spending, difficulty saving and plans for the future—and determined a score to represent the climate. The score for quarter 4 of 2014 is the lowest it’s been since the study was launched, meaning consumer sentiment is steadily improving.

The categories that have seen the greatest year-on-year improvement are indulgent, such as meals out, cigarettes and alcohol. This reflects a trend we spotted a few years back—Live a Little, the idea that in the midst of financial woes and pressure to live healthy, clean lives, people are looking for small indulgences and other ways to let go (a little bit).

With the recovery still underway, Austerity Britain presents compelling opportunities for brands to offer struggling consumers a helping hand and innovate in a quickly evolving climate. For more insights on how consumers are reacting to austerity, download the full report for free here.