Cost of Living Impact on Consumer Behaviour – July 2022

State of the Nation – July 2022

Cost of Living Consumer Impact


Costs of living are constantly rising, and consumers are having to adapt and rapidly change behaviour in many aspects of their lives.

With increasing concerns about the situation, we’ve compiled this report to help stakeholders in multiple industries understand what these behaviour changes are, and sentiments around them.

The research in this report was conducted in July 2022, with a nationally representative sample of UK consumers.

Consumer Concerns Rising

We’ve already seen that most of the UK population (81%) are currently highly concerned about the rising costs of living.

Around 50% are currently spending less, rising to 60% when looking at lower household income groups (up to £25,000).

These two simple snapshots make it clear that consumers are changing as a result of rising costs, but what are they cutting back on? We explore this in the next section.

The Generic Snapshot – Consumer Sacrifices

As a result of rising costs, consumers are having to make a series of sacrifices by cutting back on items and activities.

What are Consumers Cutting Spending on Currently?

Eating out and takeaways are being cut out the most at the moment, with clothes and holidays/outings close behind.

(In this question, consumers were able to select multiple options)


In our research, we saw other categories consumers might not be cutting down on now, but ones they would be willing to sacrifice, which were:

  • Gym memberships
  • Indulgent shower gels and shampoos
  • Make-up
  • Major electronic purchases like laptops and phones


If costs continue to rise, consumers are also willing to sacrifice the following this summer:

  • Summer holidays abroad
  • Theme parks
  • Festivals
  • Ice lollies and ice cream
  • Getting the pool out
  • Buying drinks in the pub


And the following in autumn/winter:

  • Turning the heating on
  • Celebrating Halloween
  • Celebrating Christmas
  • Social activities


But consumers will continue to buy some items despite rising costs.

Consumers are less willing to give up spending in the following categories, primarily drinks – tea, coffee, and alcohol in particular.

(In this question, consumers were able to select multiple options)

Now let’s look at a breakdown of consumer behaviour by different categories of spending.

Grocery Shopping habits

Consumer habits have been changing, and more people are now looking for items on offer, shopping around to find the best deals, and buying less branded products.

(In this question, consumers were able to select multiple options)

On a breakdown of the data, those on lower incomes are mainly buying less branded products, whereas those on higher incomes are mainly looking for more deals/offers, or stated that their habits haven’t changed.


Consumer Quotes – Changing Grocery Shopping Habits

“I have started purchasing more supermarket own brand items and buying less luxuries”
“I check without the voucher website and also compare goods before shopping”
“Looking more for yellow labels at the reduced”

Supporting this, we found that most consumers are increasingly likely to purchase value items in supermarkets, compared to big brands.

Many are also changing where they shop, with 14% saying they’ve changed their main supermarket, and 37% making the effort to visit multiple shops to find the best prices.

On further breakdown, older people aged 65+ seem less affected, with 43% voting that their habits haven’t changed.


Consumer Quotes – Changing Grocery Shops

“Yes. Not going to Morrisons anymore as too expensive. Shop at Aldi and Lidl now. Cheaper. Reward scheme with Lidl is better.”
“Yes definitely I have to go to more shops to get the best price”
“Not yet, as the loyalty scheme at my local supermarket helps with costs. However, I have noticed food prices rising across all sections and if it continues I will have to think about shopping else where.”

However, some consumers are still prioritising convenience when it comes to meals, for example by continuing to purchase meal boxes – more so if prices stay low or boxes are on offer.

Consumer Quotes – Willingness to Continue Purchasing Meal Boxes

“Yes, as I live alone it’s actually good value as less waste (I freeze extra portions)”
“Depends on what happens to the cost of food. Currently meal boxes are cheaper than buying and cooking”
“We’ve tried a couple with vouchers and they have been good however I would not pay full price for them, particularly at the current time.”

All in all, nearly 60% of consumers believe supermarkets could be doing more to help in the cost-of-living situation.

The main actions they’d like to see are:

  • More offers in-store
  • More loyalty reward schemes
(In this question, consumers were able to select multiple options)

Sorting by demographics, we found those on lower incomes wanted to see price freezes and more basic/value items, more than other groups.

The consumer perception is not all negative however, with some consumers thinking the onus is not on supermarkets to help. See some thoughts in the quote section below.


Consumer Quotes – Desired Actions from Supermarkets

“The premium ranges could increase in cost slightly in order to cover the basic ranges and keep them as low in price as possible.”
“Better loyalty deals and coupons for basic foods that aren’t branded”
“Keep prices low on essentials/staples and good offers for loyalty”
“I am not certain what supermarkets should do. They also need to make money to pay wages and maintain staff levels”


Clothes Shopping habits

Non-food shopping behaviours are also changing. Overall, consumers are buying less clothing, and looking for more sales. There is also a growth in second-hand buying.

(In this question, consumers were able to select multiple options)

Around 62% of consumers say they already buy second-hand clothing.

On further breakdown of the data, this trend is driven more by younger age groups.

  • 78% of up to 34s voted yes
  • In comparison, only 45% of 55+ voted yes


Consumer Quotes – Changing Clothes Shopping Habits

“Yes, I have reduced spending on new clothes. Shopping more in second-hand charity shops.”
“Everything I buy now is preowned from Vinted. I don’t spend money unnecessarily”
“I continue to buy branded items but wait more for sales than previously”


Travel habits

Consumers are also changing their travel habits due to rising fuel costs, primarily by driving less, and so walking more.

(In this question, consumers were able to select multiple options)

Consumer Quotes – Changing Travel Habits

“I use my car much less due to high petrol costs. Try to shop locally as I can walk there”
“I’m saving money on petrol by walking, cycling and using public transport when I can”
“I have been walking to work to save on petrol, I am also in the process of selling my car because I cannot afford it anymore”

A response that stood out in one of our questions, was the willingness of some consumers to sell their car if costs continue to rise.

We tested this further with the nationally representative sample, and found a surprising 28% would be willing to, and 4% had already done so.


Leisure Activity habits

As costs of travel have increased, this has impacted how people choose to spend their leisure time.

Almost 45% say they’ve reduced going out for leisure, though a quarter haven’t changed their habits. Supporting this, we saw consumers emphasising the importance of leisure for health, who as a result weren’t willing to cut back here.

Additionally, a quarter are still going out, but are looking for free activities and places to visit.


Consumer Quotes – Changing Leisure Habits

“Yes, I am going out and eating out much less. Finding free things to do with the kids and taking picnics and drinks everywhere we go”
“Yes I do more walking in parks now as its free to see natural beauty and exercise”
“No not at all. Why save for the cemetery”



No matter what industry you’re in, as the economic climate continues to change, so does consumer behaviour.

To keep track of real-time data, easy-to-use intelligence platforms like Vypr can help.

Save time and money with quick, robust research, and adapt to your target consumers’ needs at the point of change, and not when it’s too late.

Try it free now – ask any question to the Vypr Community!

Keep an eye out for our interactive tracker, where you can view the latest consumer behaviour changes in the cost of living crisis. Follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter to know as soon as it’s launched!

cost of living tracker

Related Posts.