The UK's Ever Changing Spending Habits - by Jessica Foreman

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Are you hooked into the cycle of wanting more stuff, needing more stuff and buying more stuff? Well, if so, you’ll know that pressure of keeping on top of trends and having ‘things’ to make you feel successful is knocking a hole in your bank balance. There’s an infinite amount of things you could spend your hard-earned money on, and we certainly have a culture of ‘more more more’ here in the UK. However, that looks set to change…

We’ve hit ‘peak stuff’…
IKEA’s Chief Sustainability Officer has recently warned that our appetite for buying things is declining. “In the west…we have probably hit peak stuff,” he warned, suggesting that we don’t have the desire to buy yet more things – even if we have the space or the cash to keep up new trends! After all, who actually wants more towels, candles or photo frames on top of the ones they’ve already got?

This probably doesn’t mean that we’ll stop buying items altogether (after all, we all like to replace things once in a while, and there will always be people who don’t have everything), but it’s likely that we’ve plateaued in terms of the amount of belongings we feel we need.

… but we’re still spending
If we’ve grown tired of buying products, what are we actually using our money for? Well, data suggests that the UK is now spending less on clothes and food, but more on the things that create memories. Holidays, entertainment and eating out are the new trend, with more people spending money on experiences than on products. According to this article in the Guardian, holidays have increased by 10% since 2010, which suggests that people are more inclined to jet off for sunny shores than they are to splash out in Sainsburys.

And don’t have much in the way of savings
Yet, while it’s great to think that we’re now using our money for making memories (holidays with our loved ones, dinners out with friends and more leisure time to take part in our hobbies all bode well for our relationships and state of mind), it’s not all good news. Despite having money to spare, we’re not doing a good job of saving it. According to the Money Advice Service, four in ten adults in the UK don’t have £500 in savings, which just goes to show that any spare money we have from month to month is being spent rather than squirrelled way for an emergency.

However, not being able to save isn’t something we should feel bad about as a nation. While the average salary is £27,600, many of us earn much less than this. As a result, it’s not unusual to have to get some credit once in a while. When we need extra money in an emergency and don’t have savings to draw on, many of us try to get a loan against a car or ask the bank for a credit card, and with the uncertainty of Brexit, who knows when we might need to rely on a loan? Our spending habits are bound to change again in the future, and it’s nice to know that there’s always a plan B once we’ve emptied our current accounts.

Jessica Foreman is a Durham University graduate specialising in business and lifestyle based writing. She has developed her skills on projects surrounding The British Broadcasting Company, and running a print and online based magazine whilst at university. She is currently looking towards starting her Masters in Mobile and Personal Communications as well as broadening her horizons through travelling.