The credit crunch is biting deeper. And it seems like no one is spending money anymore.
This morning the Times online has run an article on the fact that middle class grocery shoppers are ‘ditching costly treats as they dash to save cash… they’re trading down, buying cheaper cuts of meat, making their own sandwiches and deserting premium retailers for the pile ‘em high, sell ‘em cheap variety’. Apparently Waitrose and Marks & Sparks are out, and Aldi and Morrisons are in.
But the changing shopping habits of the public are quite interesting; shoppers are cutting their costs on everyday items, but are still looking to splurge on the occasional treat. The managing director of Waitrose said of the new shopping patterns, ‘at one end our Good As Going Out range is massively up, champagne is up 10 per cent and aged Aberdeen Angus is up 110 per cent… but the other thing is that people have gone from organic to free range and they are buying promotions much more. Around 30 per cent of the things we now sell are on promotion, up from 20 per cent’.
So basically, shoppers are restricting their budgets in some areas in order to still afford the things that are really important to them: champagne and aged Aberdeen Angus beef. That’s my kind of frugal.
The reason I find this so interesting, is that I have kind of been living in my own private self-imposed credit crunch for the last six months. I don’t have a mortgage or a car, so I haven’t been suffering from the biggest effects of the credit crunch the way many others have. My budgeting and frugal habits have arisen from our impending wedding and wanting to clear our debts within the next 18 months.
But I have noticed that lots of my friends have been changing their financial habits in response to external forces. No one’s got much money to do anything anymore. Big nights out have been reduced to only one or two a month, and we’re more likely to meet up and split a bottle of wine now rather than hit the cocktails. We also spend more time at each other’s houses, cooking and drinking £5 bottles of wine rather than eating out in expensive restaurants.
And whereas a couple of years ago a couple of my friends would have rather died than admit they were broke (well maybe not died… but would have opted for serious credit card debt as the preferable alternative), now there’s a sense that everyone’s going through hard financial times together (like sharing recipes and getting over-excited about a 50% off sale, or consoling whoever has caved into her husband and agreed to go camping over the summer rather than taking a trip to Greece), and it’s nothing to feel ashamed of or upset about. It’s kind of like being frugal has replaced the crazed, materialistic years of a few years back– and it’s kind of a nice feeling, like a weight of the shoulders, don’t you think?