Younger generation cutting spending on hospitality and leisure as concerns over living costs rise

25 Sep 2022

  • PwC consumer risk survey shows over half of 18-34 year olds are reducing spending on holidays, streaming services, and eating out

  • Over half of all age groups are ‘very concerned’ about day to day living costs

  • Major shift since last year’s survey with the public’s concerns moving from health to the cost of living

Gen Z and Millenials are cutting their spending on hospitality and leisure activities as concerns over the cost of living rise, according to a new consumer survey from PwC. In order to save money, over half of 18-34 year olds are either reducing or stopping eating out (69%), subscriptions to their streaming/TV services (57%), and going on holidays (58%). This compares to only 51%, 28%, and 37%, respectively, in the over 55 age group. The findings of PwC’s annual survey of 2,000 UK adults, conducted in August 2022, show how generational spending habits are shifting, and concerns over living costs are impacting all age groups.

As the younger generation cuts spending in some areas, they are also planning to be more financially resilient overall. Significantly more 18-34 year olds (42%) say they plan to ‘save money’ more in the next 12 months, compared to 27% of all adults and 15% of over 55s. In addition, far more 18-34 year olds (38%) say they plan to learn more about personal finance over the next year, compared to 25% of 35-54 year olds and 13% of over 55s.

Bobbie Ramsden-Knowles, Crisis and Resilience Partner, PwC UK said: 

“The changing concerns of the UK public over the last 12 months show how fast-moving and unpredictable risk is and how quickly it can shape people’s behaviours. Organisations must rethink their approach to resilience to not only get ahead, but also better anticipate and adapt to the rapidly-shifting behaviours and spending habits of customers, employees and stakeholders to mitigate the impact.”

Public concerns shift to cost of living

Compared to last year’s survey which was conducted while the UK was still heavily impacted by the pandemic, the public’s concerns have moved away from health to financial worries. Over half of all respondents said that they are ‘very concerned’ about day-to-day living costs (54%), their biggest concern, followed by a potential recession (45%), climate change (44%), global conflict and unrest (41%), and increasing taxes (40%). Last year one of the biggest concerns was around pandemics and other health crises.

In addition, when asked which issues will have the most impact on them over the next 12 months, 54% of respondents said ‘day to day living costs’ will have a high or very high impact on their daily lives. This is followed by ‘a potential recession’ (41%) and ‘increased taxes’ (38%).

However, these financial pressures aren’t felt evenly across all age groups with the greatest anticipated impact among 18-34 year olds. For example, just under half (48%) of 18-34 year olds say a potential recession will have a very high or high impact on their daily life over the next year, compared to just over a third (36%) of over 55s. And, 48% of 18-34 year olds say increased taxes will have a very high or high impact on them, compared to just over a quarter (27%) of over 55s. 

Bobbie Ramsden-Knowles said: 

“The rapidly-shifting spending habits of their customers means that businesses must react swiftly in order to survive and then thrive. The differences in generational behaviour means it is even more important for organisations to not only anticipate how their customers' habits will change, but also focus on their own resilience by factoring in any further external crises and potential disruption.”

Job security versus salary expectations

Underlining the financial pressure that the younger generation are under, just over half (51%) of 18-34 year olds say they would take a position that pays more, over one with job security. This compares with 58% of respondents across all age groups saying that they would take a more secure job that pays less in the current environment. 

In addition,  just over half (51%) of the over 55 age group say they value job satisfaction over security, which suggests they are under less financial stress and can prioritise doing work they enjoy over security or money.

Bobbie Ramsden-Knowles said: 

“Businesses have an important role in helping address the growing range of risks we face today and their actions will be scrutinised more than ever before. The UK public increasingly expects organisations to support their employees through these challenging times, and being seen to not be ‘doing the right thing’ could have a damaging impact on trust and reputation.”


About the survey

PwC commissioned Opinium Research to conduct an online survey of 2,000 UK adults aged 18+. Fieldwork took place in August 2022 and the sample is designed to represent the UK adult population according to various demographic criteria.

About PwC

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Chris French

Chris French

Manager, media relations, PwC United Kingdom

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