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Discretionary purchases out as value ranges and ‘dupes’ in

Paloma Kubiak
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Paloma Kubiak

Brits are switching up their supermarket and retail shopping habits amid the cost-of-living crisis, with more people turning to value ranges and ‘dupes’ of popular and more expensive products, spending data reveals.

Grocery price inflation was up 17% in February, with Brits warned that food bills are likely to be £800 higher this year than last.

Given the huge increase in grocery prices, data by Barclays bank – which sees nearly half the nation’s credit and debit card transactions – revealed spending in this sector increased 6.6% in February.

Seven in 10 Brits said they are looking for ways to reduce the cost of their weekly shop, and for a third, they’re doing this by visiting multiple retailers, Barclays revealed.

Three in 10 are also shopping in larger supermarkets as they tend to be cheaper than smaller convenience stores.

Overall, it found that consumer card spending grew 5.9% year on year in February, with data highlighting that half of Brits are cutting back on discretionary purchases, luxuries and one-off treats.

A smaller proportion (48%) are also buying more budget/value ranges, with 46% writing a list of groceries so they only buy what they need.

Three in 10 Brits said they will cut back on Easter celebrations this year, with one in four spending less on Easter eggs.

Elsewhere, in an effort to save money, over a third of shoppers are buying ‘dupes’ – the affordable versions of more expensive, popular products. The most popular items shoppers are buying as ‘dupes’ are food and drink products (68%), clothing (28%) and make-up and beauty products (23%).

Bargain seekers also took to discount stores, with these seeing a 5.5% spending uplift.

Spending up on fuel, transport and energy

Spend on fuel increased by a modest 5% year on year in February – likely due to falling petrol and diesel prices, as well as the uplift in car travel seen in February 2022, brought on by the easing of Covid restrictions and the end of work-from-home guidance.

Meanwhile, spending on public transport saw a big uplift (22.6%), as savvy commuters locked in fares ahead of the recent 5.9% increase in train ticket prices, which came into effect on 5 March.

Spending on utilities grew 43%, with two thirds of Brits consciously trying to save energy at home.

Matt Hammerstein, CEO of Barclays UK, said: “Many of our customers emerged from the pandemic in a better financial position than at the start – largely because there were fewer opportunities for non-essential spending – and they either put the surplus to one side in a simple savings account, or used it to pay off debt.

“Those fortunate enough to have built up a buffer have been able to accommodate rising living costs more comfortably, with many making reasonable lifestyle adjustments to stay ahead. For example, our data shows that six in 10 people are consciously trying to reduce their overall discretionary spending, and over a third are cutting back on new clothing and accessories, restaurants and takeaways, specifically.”