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Lonely and broke
Thursday June 2nd 2011
March 27 2011
Lonely and broke - the isolation of the economic gloom
Rising prices and a bleak economic future are turning us into a society of recluses claims insurance company helpucover.co.uk1. And it's not through choice. Weary Brits are simply 'throwing in the towel' when it comes to going out and enjoying themselves. Many of the activities that people used to take for granted are now becoming out of reach due to the cost of living. After buying the basics, there is little left to spend on having fun. The cost of the weekly shop has risen by 59% since 20082 and the soaring cost of fuel has meant many people have to limit their journeys and stopping visiting to friends as commuting has to be a priority3.
As part of helpucover's research into the effects of the economic downturn, it appears that financial hardship is hitting our social lives, hard4. Even the clocks going forward have made little impact as we are all too busy worrying to catch up with friends.
One quarter of Britons believe that their jobs are now less secure than they were in January5. We have also drastically rescued how often we visit the cinema, visit pubs and bars. 48% of consumers who regularly went to see a film said they now went less often and 52% of people surveyed said they ate out less. Nearly one third (30%) of people plan to use money-off restaurant vouchers to save money. Females are more likely to reduce spending on going out for a meal (61% vs. 55%); while males are more likely to reduce how often they go out drinking (29% vs. 27%)6.
"Despite so many of us suffering financial hardship, we are not willing to discuss it with our friends7 says a spokesperson for helpucover.co.uk. "Those of us who have tried to carry on and pretend we're not having to tighten our belts are either fortunate or in denial and using credit cards8. We're even pretending that we can afford to go out and socialise when really we are staying in and hiding because we are broke."
Two thirds of us are still worried about the state of the economy and five out of the top six worries are all economic, highlighting the impact that the recent financial climate has made.10 With 1,589 people being made redundant each day, people are counting every penny11.
Sales of drinks in pubs, bars and restaurants were down 4%, but the average household now spends £30 a week on alcohol - up 3%. Six out of 10 of those surveyed said they had curtailed their pub drinking and were drinking at home12. Instead. We do not even have the annual holiday to look forward to. Since the recession, 35% of Britons are cautious about booking a holiday. We have turned our back on hotel visits, with January 2011 seeing a four percent drop in occupancy. Yet still the average room rate increased by nine percent.14
So are we spending our spare time sprucing up our homes? No, 26% of us have postponed DIY or home improvements. And, there's no joy in shopping as 75% of us intend to spend less on clothes in 2011.13
So what are 'home bird' Britons doing when they stay in? Helpucover highlights the rise in TV subscriptions in the last 12 months, up by 19%. 29% of us are actually just catching up on sleep and 26% of us a wishing we could go out.15
Worryingly, there has also been a ten per cent rise in the number of antidepressant subscriptions issued since 200716. Not surprisingly, the economic gloom has hit our libido too with the birth rate falling for the first time since 200117.
So what can we do to lift the mood? According to Dr Cooper, a GP for over forty years "Take pleasure in the small things. Go for a walk, just ten minutes of exercise a day can lower your blood pressure and make you feel better. Keep in touch with friends, even if you do not see them. Most importantly, try to give something back. Nothing makes you forget your own troubles like helping others worse off than yourself".
1Survey commissioned by Travelodge March 2011of 5,000 UK adults
3Office for national Statistics Feb 2011
48,004 new debt problems are dealt with by the Citizens Advice Bureau each day. A property is repossessed every 17 minutes
5uGov Feb 2011 - Household economic activity tracker
6Feb 2011 for eatingout.co.uk
8There are more credit cards in the UK than people (UK Payment Council JAN 2011) (Study by University of Kent Feb 2011)
9Travelodge survey March 2011
11Office of National Statistics March 2011
12survey by Mintel 2009
13according to a survey by Mintel 2009
14HotStats survey from TRI Hospitality Consulting
15Survey commissioned by Travelodge March 2011of 5,000 UK adults
16Prescription data NHS information Centre Feb 2011
17Office of National Statistics 706,248 births in England and Wales compared to 708,711 in 2008.November 2010