From charity shopping to staying in, our new report highlights how people are dealing with the effects of the recession. One stat jumped out at me – one in five people have recently gone in debt to pay for food.
The recession’s biting some harder than others. A member of my family has just been made redundant, so she immediately switched to a supermarket ‘basic’ range rather than buying branded food.
That’s quite a small change, but our first Consumers 2012 report on consumer spending habits found that some Brits are having to take even more drastic measures just to get by.
Going in to debt for food
Perhaps the most surprising result – and the one that’s got everyone talking – is that a fifth of the 2,000 people we surveyed had gone in to debt to pay for everyday essentials like food.
It’s awful that some are in this position, and it shows just how many on the lowest incomes are being affected by the economic downturn. But it’s not just those at the bottom of the pile who are struggling. Less than half the people we surveyed said that they were coping on their current income.
For some the downturn had served as a ‘reality check’ on their spending – giving them that extra nudge to reassess their finances and start saving.
So what are people cutting back on to save money? Some of the most common changes mentioned were:
- Socialising at home rather than going to the pub
- Using the internet to compare prices
- Shopping around for groceries to get the best deal
- And buying things from second hand shops or charity shops.
Saving cash by socialising at home rather than going out is something I’ve always been keen on. I sometimes throw parties because it’s a nice, cheap way to get all of my friends together. Rather than asking my mates to fork out on a restaurant meal for my birthday, I’d prefer them to do something cheap or free – as long as it’s not too annoying for my neighbours.
Also high on my list of moneysaving behaviour is shopping in charity shops. My family bought each other charity shop presents (with a limit of £5) for Christmas and unearthed some fantastic gifts – I was very happy with my DVD box set of the Chronicles of Narnia.
I’m also a big fan of making things instead of buying directly from the shop (we’re a big fan of baking cupcakes in the Which? digital team!) mostly because we enjoy one-upping the previous person’s batch. But when I see how expensive it is to buy bakery cakes for the whole team, I realise it has moneysaving benefits too!
So have you noticed the impact of the recession on your wallet? Have you changed your spending habits to help get you through the economic downturn?