TouchPoints data reveals paralyzing impact of cost-of-living crisis

Consumers’ financial struggles ramp up and longer-term plans are being put on hold

Almost 40% of Britons aren’t coping on their current salaries; they are spending over an hour longer indoors; 60% are looking for the lowest prices when shopping, and when it comes to longer-term plans - from moving out of their parents’ homes to changing jobs to retiring - they are pressing pause.

These are just some of the arresting findings from the 2023 IPA TouchPoints data which, in revealing the habits of British consumers’ daily lives and how their media usage fits into this, evidences the paralyzing impact the cost-of-living crisis is having on consumers’ lives in the short and longer-term. The nationally representative survey was carried out on over 3,000 GB adults aged 15+, between January and March 2023.

Consumers’ financial struggles ramp up

According to the TouchPoints figures, 37.6% of consumers aren’t coping on their current salary. This figure is up 15% from pre-lockdown 2020 (32.6%) and up 22% since the lockdowns in both 2020 and 2021 (both at 30.7%). For the lowest income and disadvantaged groups this figure stands even higher at 60%. 

Alongside this, the data reveals that 5.9% of consumers are consolidating their debts and/or remortgaging which marks a 34% increase since pre-lockdown 2020 (4.4%) and a considerable 168% increase over the past six months alone (2.2% in 2022).

Consumers spend over an hour longer inside post lockdown while the percentage of consumers shopping declines

As consumers feel the pinch, the TouchPoints data reveals the amount of time the average adult spends at home has increased by 66 minutes per day since pre-lockdown 2020.

  • In pre-lockdown 2020, our mean hours spent inside the home were 17 hours 37 minutes per day, which has now increased to 18 hours and 43 minutes per day.

Concurrently, shopping has declined since pre-lockdown 2020.

  • While supermarkets attract the greatest weekly reach of all shopping outlets (at 63.3%), this is down 7% since pre-lockdown 2020 (68%). Coupled with this, the weekly reach of the high street has fallen 17% in this same time frame (from 40.5% to 33.6%); shopping centre reach has fallen 8% (from 21.0% to 19.3%) and out-of-town retail parks have fallen 3% (from 14.7% to 14.2%). Meanwhile, the reach of local shops has remained unchanged at 36.5%.
  • In terms of online shopping, this is up slightly, by 3% since pre-lockdown 2020 (from 49.4% to 50.7%).

Consumers increasingly look for lowest price and best deals when shopping

When consumers do shop, the TouchPoints data reveals a dramatic increase in their search for discounts, money-off and the lowest prices.

  • Three-fifths of consumers look for the lowest possible prices when they go shopping (60.9%), up 11% from pre-lockdown 2020 (55%), and 41.6% actively look for money-off vouchers (up 31% on the 31.7% in pre-lockdown 2020).
  • Concurrently. over half of consumers, 52.9%, say they will gladly switch brands to make use of a coupon, up 13% since pre-lockdown 2020 (from 46,7%) and 42.7% say they use a range of supermarkets and shops for their weekly grocery shopping in order to get the best prices, up 14% from 37.5%.
  • Meanwhile, almost a third, 32.6%, of consumers often check the comparative online price of a product they are looking at in a store (up 15% from 28.3% in pre-lockdown 2020).

Longer-term plans for all generations increasingly put on hold over next 12 months

The knock-on effect of these financial struggles is not just affecting consumers’ daily decisions, the data also reveals consumers’ plans for the next 12 months having to hit pause.

For those starting out:

  • The number of people planning to start a university course has fallen 53% (3.4% pre-lockdown 2020 to 1.6% in 2023).
  • Concurrently, the number of people planning to move out of their parents’ home in the next 12 months has dropped by 29% (from 4.1% to 2.9%).

At mid-career level:

  • The number of people planning to move jobs in the next 12 months has fallen 31% (from 11.9% to 7.4%).
  • The number planning on changing career in the next 12 months is down 37% (from 5.4% to 3.4%).
  • And the number of those planning on starting a new business in the next 12 months is down 20% (from 2.5% to 2%).

At the end of their careers:

  • The number of those planning to retire in the next 12 months has fallen 40% (from 2.1% to 1.3%).

Says Josh Krichefski, IPA President and CEO, EMEA & UK, GroupM:

"There can be a danger when looking at data points that we look at the numbers but don’t fully appreciate the people and the story behind them. And this is where the TouchPoints data plays a crucial role. We can see from the latest TouchPoints data the significant impact of the cost-of-living crisis on consumers’ lives."

As financial burdens increase, halting both our short and longer-terms plans, it is imperative that brands and their agencies are mindful of these challenges and work to understand the role we can play in helping to add value to consumers’ lives at this tough time.

Josh Krichefski, IPA President and CEO, EMEA & UK, GroupM

Says Belinda Beeftink, Research Director, IPA:

"The latest TouchPoints data highlights the struggles some people are facing with the cost-of-living crisis. This is impacting their daily lives not only in terms of what they can afford, but what they do, when they go out, when they socialise and crucially for our industry, how they consume different media channels. TouchPoints continues to give us a rounded view of every day life in 2023."

Find out more about IPA TouchPoints
Last updated 01 May 2024