Australians sharpen eye for the bargain
AUSTRALIAN households are battening down t he hatches, seeking cut-price deals for almost every purchase as family budgets continue to take a battering.
The cost of living is rising, and so too is the hunt for savings on almost everything from clothes, groceries and holidays to insurance.
And it seems the spending cutbacks are only set to continue, with most ‘ keepers of the purse’ – women – the most pessimistic about the household finances, according to two new surveys.
Coles Insurance, owned by retail giant Wesfarmers, found that Australians are swiftly becoming a nation of bargain-hunters.
The discount buying, however, also looks to be delivering big rewards with household savings levels on the increase and consumers also becoming more s avingssavvy and asking for better interest-rate deals.
About 90 per cent of people surveyed said they regularly scouted around for better prices and deals for purchases, with most estimating they spend nearly two days a month researching offers and products before making a purchase.
Not surprisingly, groceries and household s hopping items are the area where most people seek bargains.
However, about 78 per cent of people also said they actively looked for the best deal when buying clothes and f ashion accessories, while 67 per cent said they chased discounts on services, utilities and holidays.
Up to 67 per cent of people also said they sought out the best meal deals and entertainment costs.
‘ ‘ Australian households are having to tighten their belts for a number of reasons and our research shows that most are adept at seeking out money-saving deals,’’ Coles Insurance finance director Tony Buffin says.
‘‘ Common reasons cited for pursuing savings are interest rate rises, general market conditions and higher motoring costs,’’ he says.
Psychologist and author Dr Timothy Sharp says finding a bargain has a positive impact on how we feel.
‘‘ While we derive immediate pleasure from buying items, it is the savings that give us the most long-term satisfaction,’’ he says.
‘‘ The power of taking small steps, such as saving on household items, should not be underestimated.
‘‘ It is these steps that could eventually add up to achieving our bigger goals in life.
‘‘ Spending generally results in short-term buzz, whereas savings provide a deeper sense of long-term satisfaction.’’
In a second survey, Commonwealth Bank of Australia found that women were less confident than men about the shape of the economy, a major reason for the slump in retail spending.
This is because women are responsible for most household money, giving them day-by-day awareness of finances, CBA economist Michael Blythe says.
‘‘ In successive quarters, women are significantly less positive about their economic outlook than men.
‘‘ At present, 38 per cent of men perceive the economy to be strong, versus just 21 per cent of women.
‘‘Almost a quarter of women ( 24 per cent) also believe the economy is going downhill, compared with 21 per cent of men.’’
This shows up further in the type of spending tradit i onally dominated by each gender.
Sales are soft in department stores, clothing and footwear where women dominate, accounting for 59 per cent of sales.
Men, meanwhile, spend big on non-retail purchases such as fuel, recreation and cars, where sales turnover has fared better.
ECONOMISING: Department store shoppers take advantage of a sale to buy items at bargain prices