As consumer confidence dips, Barclaycard spending insights reveal 10 ways Brits are saving money during the cost-of-living crisis
New data from Barclaycard, which sees nearly half the nation’s credit and debit card transactions, reveals 10 ways Brits are changing their spending behaviour amid the cost-of-living squeeze.
This comes as consumers report feeling less optimistic about their ability to live within their means (66 per cent said they were optimistic in June, compared to 71 per cent in May), and their ability to spend on non-essential items (48 per cent versus 54 per cent).
Insights are taken from the latest Barclaycard’s monthly Consumer Spending Index, which combines the hundreds of millions of customer transactions recorded in June 2022 with consumer confidence data to provide an in-depth view of UK spending.
10 cost-saving behaviours – June 2022 data
1. Forgoing holidays abroad
As living costs increase, almost one in five (17 per cent) say they are not going on holiday at all this year, while a similar proportion (19 per cent) are opting for a holiday in the UK, or staycation, in a bid to save money. Meanwhile, despite potential flight cancellations, 12 per cent cite their motivation to make up for lost time during the pandemic as the main reason for prioritising foreign travel this year.
2. Reducing energy and water consumption at home
Spending on utilities in June jumped 39.6 per cent year-on-year, 5.1 per cent higher than in May (34.5 per cent). This is leading 91 per cent of the nation (up from 88 per cent the previous month) to feel the negative impact of rising household bills on their personal finances. In addition, 44 per cent of Brits are cutting back on their energy and water consumption to keep costs down, 55 per cent are now more conscious of turning off lights when they leave a room, and 44 per cent also make sure they turn off electrical appliances rather than leaving them on standby. Washing clothes on lower temperature settings (37 per cent), making more use of a clothes horse or washing line rather than a tumble drier (32 per cent), and taking shorter showers (29 per cent) are also popular methods to reduce water use.
3. Reducing car travel as fuel costs rise
There was a 24.8 per cent surge in fuel spending in June, as petrol and diesel prices continued to climb. In response, over a quarter (27 per cent) of Brits say they are changing their driving habits. Half of these motorists (52 per cent) are walking more often, 47 per cent are cutting back on long journeys, and one in two (25 per cent) is opting for public transport instead.
4. Savvier grocery shopping
Grocery spending in June fell -0.9 per cent year-on-year, with almost half of consumers (49 per cent) seeking more value from their weekly shop – an eight percent rise on the previous month (41 per cent). Of this group, nearly a third (32 per cent) have been cutting down on luxuries or one-off treats for themselves – six per cent higher than the proportion who said this in May (26 per cent) – while 27 per cent have been buying budget or own-brand goods over branded goods in supermarkets.
Brits are also using smaller basket sizes as a way of keeping better track of their budget throughout the month, and as a result end up shopping more often – while the value of grocery transactions fell compared to last year, the volume of transactions grew 6.1 per cent.
5. Cooking more from scratch
Many consumers are trying to do more of their cooking using basic ingredients, instead of relying on pre-prepared options. A third (32 per cent) say they are cooking or preparing more meals from scratch, instead of buying lunch, eating out or ordering a takeaway – a figure that rises to two fifths (40 per cent) for women compared to 25 per cent for men. This may explain why spending at restaurants was down -3.3 per cent compared to June 2021, although the category did see slight month-on-month growth (0.8 per cent), suggesting that some Brits are still keen to support the hospitality sector and eat out with friends.
6. Repairing, recycling and reusing clothes and accessories
Clothing retailers saw a small month-on-month uplift of 2.4 per cent in June compared to May, likely due to rising inflation as well as Brits preparing for summer holidays and events. However, noticeably more Brits in June (32 per cent) than the previous month (25 per cent) said they are looking for ways to reduce the amount they spend on new clothes and accessories. Over half (53 per cent) are actively avoiding buying new clothes, a third (36 per cent) of these shoppers are only buying discounted or sale items, and a similar proportion (31 per cent) are looking for bargains in charity shops. In addition, over a quarter (27 per cent) are making an effort to repair damaged clothing, and a fifth (21 per cent) are buying less ‘fast fashion’ in favour of items that may last longer.
7. Maximising use of discount codes and loyalty schemes
With Brits feeling less confident than about their ability to spend on non-essential items (48 per cent in June versus 54 per cent in May), many are turning to reward schemes to cut back on discretionary spending. 30 per cent are using loyalty cards and discount codes to get money off items – such as hot drinks, clothing and meals out – with this behaviour more popular among women (35 per cent) than men (24 per cent).
8. Cancelling subscriptions
Digital and content subscriptions saw a month-on-month decline of -4.2 per cent in June, as consumers become increasingly selective about their spending. This comes as a quarter (26 per cent) are reviewing their subscriptions and cancelling ones they can live without – a slight increase on the 21 per cent who said this the previous month. Among this group, 44 per cent are making cuts to their film and TV streaming services, and a third (33 per cent) are cancelling paid-for TV channels. Other subscriptions Brits are cutting back on include music streaming platforms (22 per cent), as well as gym and sports club memberships (14 per cent).
9. Dipping into lockdown savings
As consumers’ confidence in their ability to live within their means each month dropped from 71 per cent in May to 66 per cent in June, the proportion of Brits dipping into money they saved up during lockdown increased from 13 per cent to 17 per cent.
10. Making changes to money management
Over one in eight (13 per cent) Brits are making changes to their banking and money management, with almost half of this group (47 per cent) checking their bank balance more often. A further 34 per cent are staying on top of spending by checking their regular payments or Direct Debits to see how many subscriptions they have, while 29 per cent are arranging for their bills to come out just after pay day, so they know how much money they have left for the month.
Jose Carvalho, Head of Consumer Products at Barclaycard, said: “Consumer confidence took a noticeable hit in June as Brits began to feel the squeeze of rising living costs, leading to a tightening of household budgets. As a result, consumers are relying on tried and tested ways to save money across all aspects of their lives, whether that’s through being more economical with their energy use, driving less often or shopping in the sales. At the same time, many are becoming more selective about their spending, prioritising certain subscriptions, holidays abroad and eating and drinking out. These habits are likely to stay for the foreseeable future, as the cost-of-living squeeze continues, and will be key to ensure Brits who are feeling the pinch most acutely can manage their finances sustainably.”
Jasmine Birtles, Financial Expert, said: “They say that necessity is the mother of invention and it’s clear that, in the current cost of living crisis, people are getting more and more creative with their money-saving hacks. Where we used to throw things away when they stopped working, we’re now discovering the art of mending and repairing them. We are getting into clever cooking instead of just picking ready meals off the shelf and we are working out what we really need and want to spend on and what is just a nice-to-have. While having to think about budgeting is another thing to add to consumers' plates, small changes like these will be worth it and enable them to live day-to-day without having to raid their savings.”
Barclays is providing a range of support to customers as the cost of living rises. To find out more go to barclays.co.uk/money-management/.
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Notes to editors
*Minor edits were made from Q4 to Q11 in this survey question month-on-month to reflect consumer trends and current affairs.
Established in 2014, Barclaycard issues a monthly press release commenting on consumer spending trends.
Barclaycard sees nearly half of the nation’s credit and debit card transactions, which provides us with unique insight into UK consumer spending. The monthly spending data in this press release is based on Barclaycard credit card and Barclays debit card transactions, and is analysed by the Barclays Market and Customer Insights team. It relates to the period 21 May 2022 to 24 June 2022. It is compared with 22 May 2021 to 25 June 2021.
The consumer confidence survey in this press release was carried out between 24 and 28 June 2022 by Opinium Research on behalf of Barclaycard. There were 2,000 respondents, providing a representative sample of UK consumers by age, gender, region, and income group.
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