Spending on utility bills soared by a third in May, Barclaycard shows

The insights also show that people are giving up their online subscriptions as the cost-of-living crisis unfolds.

06 June 2022

The average amount that people spent on utilities increased by more than a third in May compared to a year ago, new data from Barclaycard revealed.

The insights also show that people are giving up their online subscriptions as the cost-of-living crisis unfolds and they are forced to spend much more on basics.

People spent 9.3% more on their cards in May compared to the same period a year earlier, both due to the cost of living and restrictions on travel and hospitality this time last year.

April’s massive spike in the energy price cap showed in May’s spending figures. Barclaycard customers ended up spending 34.5% more in May on utilities than they had a year ago.

According to a survey, four in 10 are looking for ways to use less energy and water in their homes.

To help offset rising costs, a fifth say they are reviewing their subscriptions. And this is borne out in the data too.

Spending on digital content and subscriptions dropped 5.7% in May, while households are also tightening their belts elsewhere.

“The cost of living squeeze is clearly influencing discretionary spending habits, with figures showing a decline in subscriptions, and a drop in spending at restaurants, bars, pubs and clubs,” said Jose Carvalho, head of consumer products at Barclaycard.

“While consumer confidence continues to fall, we hope to see at least a short-term boost thanks to the Jubilee Weekend, and the recently announced £400 energy bill discount coming in October.”

But there are also some areas where British card holders are ramping up their spending.

The travel industry saw a nearly 190% rise year-on-year. This is hardly surprising seeing as there were still heavy restrictions on international travel a year ago.

But even month-on-month there was a 24% boost for travel agents, a 6.6% rise for airlines, and even hotels in the UK saw a small boost, suggesting that the appetite for domestic holidays is strong.

Financial expert Jasmine Birtles said: “The nation is clearly starting to feel the effects of rising prices, and unfortunately this is likely to continue over the months ahead.

“However, there are a number of money-saving hacks that we can all use to cut down our spend while keeping the same quality of life (although I know that many have already put these in place).

“Particularly popular moves that don’t impact our day-to-day life are to use vouchers and eat early when going to restaurants, to cancel monthly subscriptions that we hardly use (gyms, magazines, streaming services) and to share car journeys where possible – even getting rid of our own car and just hiring one when needed.

“Another big help is to turn anything we don’t use into cash. This means having a big de-clutter every few months and selling unwanted products online as well as renting out the driveway, garage and spare room if they’re lying empty.”

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