Business Briefing: Cost-saving behaviours Brits are embracing as the New Year gets underway

With the cost of living crisis very much with us for the seemingly foreseeable future, Brits look to have adopted a more cost-conscious approach to New Year’s resolutions this year. According to interesting insights taken from Barclays’ monthly Consumer Spending Index, which combines the hundreds of millions of customer transactions recorded in December 2022 with consumer confidence data, it provides an in-depth analysis of UK spending which is showing some interesting trends.

1 Resolution Refocus
The cost-of-living squeeze has dampened appetite for New Year’s resolutions among some Brits. More than one in 10 (11 per cent) say they have not made any resolutions at all due to rising costs, and an additional 10 per cent feel that resolutions are less important this year for the same reason. Furthermore, almost one in 10 (9 per cent) say that while they have made goals, they are opting for more cost-effective ways to achieve them.

2 Thrifty Re-Gifting
The data shows that Brits have been eyeing up their unwanted Christmas presents as a way to save or make money. Three in 10 (27 per cent) say that they intend to keep unwanted presents and regift them to others rather than buying something new, while a fifth (22 per cent) will list their unwanted gifts on reselling platforms and second-hand websites.

However, even though budgets remain tight, Brits are still supporting others – the most popular option for dealing with unwanted gifts is to donate them to charity (36 per cent). Beauty and fashion items are most likely to be regifted, sold or donated (both 27 per cent), followed by books and games (24 per cent), and then stationery, children’s toys and homeware items (all 17 per cent).

3 Own-Brand Budgeting
Concern over rising food prices continues as nine in 10 Brits (91 per cent) admit to feeling worried about the cost of groceries, with two thirds (65 per cent) looking for ways to get more value from their supermarket spending. To save money, Brits are sticking to tried-and-tested methods, such as buying own-brand or budget goods over branded goods (49 per cent),and taking advantage of vouchers and loyalty points to get money off (44 per cent).

This has prompted some Brits to make New Year’s resolutions to seek out better value for money and reduce their food bills, with over a third (34 per cent) of those who are aiming to make their resolutions more cost-effective this year planning to get a head start by preparing healthier or cheaper meals by batch cooking at the weekends.

4 Savvy Fitness
The dawn of a New Year is often when Brits look to kick-start a healthy living regime following the Christmas festivities.

In December, sports and outdoor retailers saw their highest growth (3.5 per cent) since March 2022 – likely owing to increasing gym wear and equipment purchases in the winter sales to help prepare for new fitness goals.

However, those embarking on a fitness kick have also been trying to make these new habits more affordable. Almost a third (32 per cent) of those planning to find cost-effective ways to start new resolutions are looking to take-up ‘free’ forms of exercise, such as running or using free online fitness videos instead of paying for regular classes or gym memberships.

5 Luxury Limits
As purse strings continue to tighten, half of Brits (52 per cent) plan to cut down on discretionary spending to be able to afford energy bills throughout the winter. The two most popular ways to cut back are to reduce how often they eat out at restaurants (63 per cent) and to buy fewer new clothes and accessories (63 per cent).
Additionally, of the 65 per cent who are looking to reduce the cost of their weekly shop, one in two (50 per cent) are cutting down on luxuries or one-off treats for themselves.

“Esme Harwood, Director at Barclays, said: The start of new year typically encourages Brits to make positive resolutions for the year ahead. This year, Brits are having to get creative in order to achieve their resolutions on a budget, taking advantage of discounts and free resources where available.

“With 2023 now underway, consumers will likely remain cautious with discretionary spending, so I will be watching closely to see how this impacts the growth of retail, hospitality and leisure. When purse strings tighten, the categories which tend to perform well include takeaways as a substitute for meals out, and staycations instead of holidays abroad.”