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Cost-of-living crunch drives consumers to discounters and second-hand marketplaces

Cost-conscious consumers are switching to discount brands and second-hand marketplaces which saw double digit spending growth in the first half of 2022, a report from advertising platform Cardlytics has found.

The State of Retail Spend report, based on the spending habits of over 24 million UK bank cards and the views of over 2,000 UK consumers, found that four in five (79%) consumers report spending more on day-to-day outgoings than they did a year ago, while with three quarters (72%) say they plan to cut-back on non-essential spending this year as the cost-of-living crunch sets in. 

As costs increase and consumers look to make their money stretch further, the report found that over half (58%) of consumers plan to shop more at discount homeware and fashion brands this year.

Discount retailers saw the largest increase in spend in the first half of this year, up 12% compared to 2021, whilst the number of transactions at these brands rose 17% in the same period.

The report also found that increasing numbers of consumers are turning to second-hand marketplaces in response to the cost-of-living squeeze.

Second-hand platforms saw a 7% uptick in spend in the first half of the year, compared to the same period in 2021, while the average number of transactions made on these platforms rose 6%.

It’s not just the number of purchases that are increasing, the amount spent per person has also risen drastically in recent years. In 2019, consumers spent £35.67 on average on second-hand marketplaces, compared with £207.63 in 2022 – a 482% rise.

That trend is set to continue as prices rise and consumers become increasingly aware of the environmental impact of buying new. The report found that one in three (34%) consumers plan to buy more second-hand items this year, while half (47%) of consumers say they plan to shop less at fast-fashion brands this year.

On the other hand, fast-fashion brands are starting to feel the impact of this mindset shift, with the number of transactions at these retailers down 16% in the first half of this year compared to 2021.

Shoppers choose high street brands over designers

Spend on luxury and designer brands fell 7% in the first 6 months of 2022, compared to 2021, while the number of transactions at luxury brands dropped 10% in the same period, indicating that consumers aren’t just spending less on designer and luxury goods, but are turning away from these brands altogether.

This downward trend looks set to continue into next year, with over half (59%) of consumers planning to spend less on luxury goods this year, while a further half (48%) plan on switching to cheaper brands for clothing and homeware as the cost-of-living bites.

Traditional high street retailers are already benefitting from the gap that luxury leaves, with both total spend and the number of transactions at high street fashion brands up 11% in the first six months of 2022, compared with 2021 as consumers ‘trade down’ when shopping.

The past two years saw bumper spend at home and gardens brands as lockdowns fuelled renovations, but withthree in five (61%) consumers planning to cut back on big-ticket purchases this year this upward trajectory may have reached its peak.

The report found that consumers are still committed to improving their outdoor space, but they are increasingly looking to do so in ways that don’t break the bank. The number of transactions at garden centres rose 22% in the first 6 months of 2022, compared to the same period in 2021, but the average transaction value fell 20%, suggesting that consumers are continuing to shop at these brands but are spending less when they do.

It’s a similar picture for high street furniture brands who are increasingly feeling the impact of shifting consumer spending priorities. Spend at furniture brands fell 20% in the first six months of this year compared to the six months prior.

Dawn Reid VP Advertising Partnerships at Cardlytics said: “We know that even in times of economic downturn, consumers still want to find ways to treat themselves, refresh their wardrobes or invest in their homes.

“But with tighter budgets than ever and the economic picture set to worsen, consumers are looking for cheaper swaps and ways to save, putting off big ticket purchases and trading down on many of their usual purchases.

“There’s an opportunity for retailers to invest now, to support consumers longer term, whether through investing in price and discount ranges, value-focused marketing, or loyalty schemes, brands can put money back into their loyal customers wallets and help build longer term brand affinity. Those brands that can grow and retain their customer base now, when times are tough, will be most likely to succeed in future.”


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