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The BBC's Karen Bowerman
"It's thought there are 600 different types of coffee"
 real 28k

Monday, 24 April, 2000, 00:31 GMT 01:31 UK
Consumers have 'too many choices'
Supermarket sheves
There are more than 40,000 different products at the supermarket
Consumers are being overwhelmed by too much choice as they battle through daily dilemmas of what to wear, eat buy or watch, a survey suggests.


Hard choices
What to wear?
What to eat?
What's on TV?
Plans for day off?
Day-to-day decisions - such as what shampoo to use, or what mobile phone to buy - are causing unnecessary stress.

Many supermarkets have around 40,000 products on sale, it is thought there are around 18 types of organic cheese, 600 kinds of coffee and more than 400 brands of shampoo.


Variety overload
180 TV channels
40,000 items at supermarket
400 shampoos
600 coffees
2,000 cars
While consumer groups have long campaigned for greater choice, the research carried out for Abbey National suggests shoppers are finding that variety is not the spice of life - but is causing stressful repercussions.

One in 10 people, out of about 1,000 surveyed, admitted the hardest choice they had to make each day was what to wear.

Another of life's biggest irritations for nearly half of all women and one in five men was deciding what to eat each evening.

Selecting which TV programmes to watch was another headache for 12% of British adults.

How do we cope?

Abbey National spokesman Tim Harrison said: "Although we are better off materially, economically, educationally and enjoy better health, life seems more stressful and more complex.

"This is the paradox of progress. More choice, more things to do, more challenges and more decisions result in more complicated lives."

One in 10 people even find it stressful deciding what to do with their leisure time, the survey showed.

It suggests that as time becomes more precious, there is more pressure not to waste on a bad choice.

Michael Willmott, of The Future Foundation - co-authors of the study, said: "Our research shows that consumers are finding their own solutions to cope with this increasing burden of choice.

"Choosing well known and trusted brands is one, but some people are starting to employ less obvious strategies like buying only organic products or shopping only on a Friday when the supermarket shelves are less full.

"As consumer choice grows consumers are feeling overwhelmed and it is starting to have a negative effect on lives."

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