High inflation and energy bills continue to squeeze incomes, a consumer tracker shows
As the cost-of-living crisis impacts British households, many are cutting down on food while living in cold homes, according to the latest findings from the ‘Which?’ consumer insight tracker.
The monthly survey commissioned by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) revealed that 8.1% of households missed a housing, bill, loan or credit card payment in February. One in seven people (15%) said they had skipped meals due to rising costs.
Just over a quarter (27%) said they had gone without some foods, up from 21% in November. Meanwhile, 9% had prioritized meals for other family members above themselves, and 4% had used a food bank.
Nearly 60% of households reported making at least one adjustment to cover essential spending such as utility bills, housing costs, groceries, school supplies and medicines in the last month. According to the report, adjustments include cutting back on essentials, dipping into savings, selling possessions and borrowing.
Consumers have also been looking for ways to save on their energy bills, with seven out of ten (72%) saying they have turned down the heating due to spiraling costs, while 39% having used less hot water and 19% having had fewer cooked meals.
“Whilst the majority of consumers have used the heating less due to price rises, this behavior will be more extreme in some households than others. Whilst some may be able to save money on heating whilst still keeping their house sufficiently warm, others will not,” the report said.
Three in ten (29%) of those who reportedly reduced their heating said they have often or always felt in physical discomfort this winter as a result. A further four in ten (41%) noted they have sometimes felt physical discomfort, while 29% have rarely or never felt that way.
Data suggests that consumer confidence has recovered but remains low. With confidence in current household finances dropping slightly in February, 38% of consumers described their financial situation as good, and nearly a quarter (24%) as poor.
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