Consumer spending habits have changed significantly over the last 12 months a recent survey has found.

R3, the trade body for insolvency professionals, found that just over half (51%) of the population are spending less on non-essential items such as clothes and DVDs, while 47 per cent have said they now shop around to find the best deals.

Just over one fifth (22%) admitted that they no longer look to specialist stores for non-essential items and will now buy these from supermarkets.

Frances Coulson, R3 President, said: “People are uncertain about what the future holds financially and the most natural response to this is to be cautious. We are seeing households tightening their domestic belts and looking for ways to reduce monthly outgoings.

“In these instances non-essentials are the first to go. However, it’s clear from the results that for those who do not wish to go without their non-essentials the supermarkets seem to be offering the best deals.”

Women have been more cautious with their spending than men, with 42 per cent saying they have switched to value or own brands in the last 12 months compared to 32 per cent of males.

More than 40 per cent of women said they were now using vouchers when shopping, whereas only 31 per cent of men have, while 23 per cent of women are setting themselves budgets compared to only 15 per cent of males.

Coulson continued: “It is encouraging to see that a considerable percentage of people are actively trying to lower their expenditure as this will help them to live within their means. However, it is a shame that budgeting remains quite low down on people’s agenda.

“Setting a budget enables you to clearly see how much you spend against your income. A budget is probably the most powerful financial weapon in the fight against debt and its value should not be underestimated.”

Please note the views expressed in this blog are the views of the author, Andre Brown and do not represent the view of Locayta, its employees or its shareholders. For more information about Locayta, visit www.locayta.com