Britons cut back on groceries and eating out in March but fuelled a resurgence in digital subscriptions to catch new seasons of popular TV programmes, figures show.
Consumer card spending grew 4% year-on-year in March, less than half the latest Consumer Prices Index rate, including owner occupiers’ housing costs, of 9.2%, according to Barclays.
However, home improvement and DIY stores enjoyed a seasonal boost while spending on digital content and subscriptions was up 4.1% – its highest year-on-year rise in five months – likely driven by the latest season premieres of popular shows such as Succession, Ted Lasso and The Mandalorian.
Spending on groceries increased 7.1%, well below the latest Office for National Statistics food price inflation rate of 18.2%, as 88% of shoppers say they were concerned about rising food prices and 62% reported finding ways to reduce the cost of their weekly shop, according to the report, which combines hundreds of millions of customer transactions with consumer research.
Spending on utilities was up 39.3% on last year as cold weather persisted into March and households kept their heating on.
As household bills continued to rise, 54% of consumers said they were cutting down on discretionary spending, especially eating out at restaurants (62%) and buying new clothes and accessories (63%).
Just a third of Britons (35%) said they would spend on activities over the King’s Coronation bank holiday weekend in May, with 11% saying they planned to buy food and drink for hosting friends or family and just 8% planning to spend money on drinks in bars and pubs.
Esme Harwood, director at Barclays, said: “The below-inflation rise in grocery spending shows that Brits are still trying their hardest to shave money off their weekly shop, as energy bills continue to rise.
“Cutbacks are also impacting restaurants, with a number of cash-strapped consumers even avoiding social plans that involve meals out.
“Hospitality and leisure businesses will be hoping that the busy bank holiday period provides a boost to counteract consumers’ everyday cost-savings.
“While predictions for the Coronation weekend are lacklustre, the results from Mother’s Day are more encouraging, demonstrating that Brits are still taking advantage of one-off moments to go out and celebrate.”
Opinium surveyed 2,000 respondents between March 24-28.