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Has the soaring cost of living changed your buying habits?

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With prices soaring and budgets tight, people in Britain and Northern Ireland need to think carefully about what they spend.

Nearly six in ten (59%) of us have changed the way we shop as the cost of living has risen, according to a new study.

Price tracking and comparison website PriceRunner surveyed more than 2,100 people across the UK in June, to find out how rising prices are affecting the country’s shopping habits.

Of those whose buying habits have changed, around seven in 10 (69%) say they have avoided buying certain more expensive items. Meanwhile, six in 10 (60%) say they try to buy as many discounted products as possible, while 57% have reduced their food intake.

In fact, there are several products that people say they have purchased less due to the rising cost of living. Footwear and apparel were the biggest drop, followed by beauty products, with home decor products rounding out the top three.

Others say they have also reduced spending on hobbies, gadgets, perfumes and furniture, with a smaller proportion reducing spending on children’s toys. Some people even say they have reduced their medication use, according to the research.

PriceRunner also analyzed how certain prices changed between January and June, using its own data on thousands of products. He found that the average price of shoes increased by 3% during this period. Women’s clothing prices increased by 5% and men’s by 3%.

Perfumes increased by 8% on average, but cosmetics overall fell by 3% on average.

Although we have often tried to buy less, there are instances when the rising cost of living has caused people to buy more items.

Some respondents say they have purchased more children’s books or toys, for example, to entertain families at home. Some also stocked up on food and alcohol at home.

“Many probably spent more time cooking at home than eating out, in order to save money,” notes Christine Gouldthorp, consumer expert at PriceRunner.

Overall, almost a quarter (23%) of respondents say that rising energy bills have affected them a lot. More than half (51%) have tried to reduce their electricity consumption, while 41% have used less gas and more than a third (37%) have used less petrol.

Going forward, further cuts may be needed as three in 10 respondents are very worried about the impact of global issues on their personal finances in the future.

It comes as a new TUC report says workers in the UK are set to experience the worst “real wage squeeze” among major economic nations.

The union said its research suggested real wages in the UK are set to fall by 6.2%, or £1,750, over the next two years, the highest figure of any G7 economy.

Wage growth will rebound faster in other countries as British workers face the longest and most severe wage pressure in modern history, the union said.

Previous analysis by the TUC said workers lost nearly £20,000 in real earnings between 2008 and 2021 due to wages not keeping pace with inflation.

Years of stagnant wages have left families “brutally exposed” to the cost of living crisis, according to its report.

The TUC said the next Prime Minister’s top priority should be to boost wages across the economy, adding that Boris Johnson and former Chancellor Rishi Sunak have pledged 20 times over the past year creating a “high-wage economy”.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Making ends meet shouldn’t be a battle, but British workers are suffering the worst pay cut in the G7 and the longest in modern history.

“Having repeatedly promised a high-wage economy, the Tories have relegated Britain to the bottom of the league for wage growth.

“Years of stagnant wages have left households brutally exposed to this cost of living crisis.

“The number one priority for Conservative leadership candidates should be to secure wage increases across the economy.

“It’s the best way to give people long-term financial security and keep families from lurching from crisis to crisis.”