While appearing ‘cheap’ was once a social stigma for Brits, it seems that thrift is today an asset for consumers in the UK. New research from Mintel finds that fewer than three in 10 (28%) Brits say that they don’t like to be seen as frugal.

It’s not just that we don’t mind being seen as ‘penny-pinching’: bargain hunting is actually today seen by Brits as a source of excitement. Nearly three quarters (73%) of consumers say they love the thrill of getting a bargain, and it’s not just those with a lower income who are searching out the deals. Three quarters (76%) of consumers with a household income of £50,000 or over say they love the thrill of getting a bargain, compared to 68% of those with an income of less than £15,500.

And while savvy shopping can be a time-sapping task, Mintel research finds that consumers are not afraid to put in the leg-work in order to scrimp and save, as three quarters (74%) of consumers say they usually shop around to get the best price available. Indeed, it seems that a full-priced item could be a thing of the past, as half (51%) of Brits say they don’t like paying full price for anything.

Ina Mitskavets, Senior Consumer and Lifestyles Analyst at Mintel, said:

“The savvy shopping mentality is still firmly entrenched in the UK today. If anything, it has been reinforced by the widespread discounting and price wars across a variety of sectors in the post-recession years. Scoring discounts has evolved from a chore into a form of entertainment, or even a full-fledged hobby. However, while it is clear that consumers now expect to see reduced prices and special offers in shops, widespread promotions can be damaging to business reputations and bottom lines. The focus for many companies going forward should be on weaning customers off discounts through better service and quality improvements.”

Clothing tops Britain’s treat list

However, when it comes to pushing the boat out, Mintel research finds it’s wardrobe over make-up for today’s fashion conscious shopper. When asked what items they would be most likely to buy themselves as a treat, the top products Brits chose were clothes, shoes or accessories (34%), followed by chocolate or sweets (33%) and favourite food to eat at home (31%).

Following the top three are a dinner out (28%), a holiday (27%), a night out (22%), a technology item or gadget (20%), alcohol (20%), a beauty or personal care product (17%) or something for the home or garden (13%), with flowers appearing bottom of the list (8%).

“Fashion, leisure and food items have become the ultimate treat for Brits today. Whilst fashion treats have no doubt been driven by the pervasive promotional activity in the sector, the research is also testament to the fact that UK consumers are now more willing to spend on leisure and experiences. While food has always been seen as a treat, it’s become particularly apparent in recent years as consumers trade up to more premium and indulgent varieties.” Ina comments.

Not so grim up North: Consumers in Yorkshire and Humberside are top for treat spending

Whether it’s clothes, food or flowers, we all have a treat that encourages our purse strings to loosen, but new research from Mintel finds that certain regions are more likely to splash out on some treats than others. And if you like a few pick-me-ups it seems you’ll be in good company in Yorkshire and Humberside, as over half (54%) of consumers in this region say they allow some budget each month for treats, for example a trip to the cinema or dinner out, compared to a national average of 48%.

On tighter treat budgets however are those in the East Midlands as well as Inner and Greater London, with just 46% of consumers in these regions agreeing they save money each month for treats.

Overall, it’s those in the West Midlands who hold the strongest love of certain treats. In Mintel’s survey featuring 11 categories of items which consumers choose to treat themselves with, the West Midlands came top in five of them. Indeed, those living in the West Midlands were the region most likely to treat themselves on clothing, shoes or accessories (43%) followed by a holiday (37%), a technology item or gadget (26%), alcohol (23%) and something for the home or garden (15%) .

And whilst Yorkshire and Humberside lead in budgeting for treats, they’re also Britain’s biggest bargain hunters. Almost four in five (78%) consumers in this region say they love the thrill of getting a bargain, up from a national average of 73%. However, it seems that signs of a sale will not be greeted with the same sense of excitement in Scotland, as just two thirds (66%) of people in Scotland agree with the same statement.

Press copies of Mintel’s British Lifestyles: Growing Tired of Austerity UK 2016 report and interviews with Senior Consumer and Lifestyles Analyst Ina Mitskavets are available on request from the press office.

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