/ Money

Squeezed wallets make us savvy shoppers

A woman comparing prices when shopping

The financial crisis has had an impact on almost everyone. Now that disposable incomes are lower, more people are putting thought into their purchases. Has the downturn turned you into a more sensible shopper?

With less money around, most people are cutting back their spending. Earlier in the year we found that the average household is spending £3,150 less per year than they were before the recession.

However, our latest research shows that people aren’t just spending less than they used to, they’re shopping in different ways. It seems the financial crisis has turned us into a nation of savvy shoppers.

Saving by shopping around

Our new shopping habits research comes in the run up to our Which? Awards 2013. The awards celebrate those businesses who continue to put the customer first and provide excellent products and services.

We found three quarters of people are now shopping around for the best deal more often than before the downturn and most people say they make fewer impulse buys. Six out of 10 people say that they shop less than they did before.

When it comes to big purchases, over half of us are now more likely to seek advice. This advice mainly comes from online reviews created by other shoppers and comparison websites. But most of us rely on advice from family and friends too.

Four in 10 people say they are checking out independent advice from organisations like Which? more than they used to when they make a significant purchase.

Shop slowly to save more

It’s interesting what a large effect the downturn is having on the way we shop. Only a third of people say they haven’t changed their habits at all.

I know I like to spend a while when shopping to make sure that I’m getting the best deal, but I didn’t realise that slow shopping is the new normal! In fact, when I think about it, I don’t just do this in the supermarket. Whenever I buy something online, not only do I compare prices across a number of websites, I’ll also cast my eye over reviews to check I’m not missing something important.

I think I’m growing to like shopping in this way too. Where once I saw it as a hassle, I now find it satisfying to shop around like this. There’s nothing worse than the feeling that you could have got a better deal, especially when money’s tighter than before.

Do you think you the economic downturn has made you shop in a more savvy way than you used to? What do you do to make your money go further?

Savvy shopper says:
22 June 2013

I am lucky to be close to three of the major supermarkets, so before I go shopping I use an online comparison website to compare the cost of the items on my shopping list. Of course, I have to add the cost of petrol if I am going to more than one store, but I tend to ‘save up’ those items and go into those stores when I am passing. Not only am I saving money on my normal grocery shops, I am also getting more benefit from the special offers. For me, the extra time is definitely worth it.

I always check the £/ kg that is displayed on the ticket. Recently one of the major supermarkets were offering bags of carrots on an offer for £1. You only got 1kg, Whereas I got 1.5kg for £1 by putting the carrots in the next box into a bag myself. Always check the unit cost, and often 2 x 250gms of something is cheaper that 1 x 500gms. I also check my bill on some offers before leaving the shop, as the ‘special’ price is often not the same as what the scanner thinks the price is.

fed up shopper says:
5 November 2014

Went to asda last night and ended up calling for the general manager because I was so fed up with their pricing on items. Like you I look at the £/k but when looking at the multi pack quavers they had per item. The bag contained 14 packets of quavers but did not say what their weight was.
I asked the staff who gave me a figure, this was wrong because they had used a single bag as their guide and the bags in there mutipacks are much smaller, it still took over 30mins and the true £/k never was figured put.
Is this legal? I though the supermarkets were supposed to clean up their act with all this confusing pricing. I told asda that I was fed up of feeling swindled when I had left their shop over issues such as this.
I always check my receipts before leaving the shop as special offers in the shop don’t always appear at the checkout. Asda cannot be trusted.