AUSTIN: Consumers in the US are spending less on meals at restaurants, new clothes and higher-priced groceries than five years ago, while relying more on discounts and coupons, a survey has found.

RetailMeNot, a digital coupon site, polled 1,101 consumers online for the financial literacy edition of its Shoppers Trend Report and found that more were actively saving money than before.

"Consumers are emerging from the Recession of 2008 having learned a valuable lesson, that saving money is a good thing," said Trae Bodge, senior editor for RetailMeNot.

"Today's consumers have higher expectations for what they can do with their hard-earned paychecks," he added. "They also want more for their money and are willing to take the necessary steps to ensure that they get it."

Significant proportions of respondents had reduced their outlay on meals at restaurants (49%), expensive groceries (44%) and new apparel (46%).

At the same time, 51% of consumers who used coupons stated they used them more today than five years ago, while 37% said they used them more than a year ago.

Economic factors were the main reason for the increased usage of coupons, either because respondents' personal finances had declined (43%) or because the recession had made them more conscious about the importance of saving (31%).

But 23% indicated that their increased use of coupons was simply because technology had made it easier to find and use them.

"Couponing as a necessity gave people a taste for savings, and consumers will continue to look for ways to get more for their money," noted Bodge.

In general, coupons had a positive image, with 59% of respondents regarding people who used them as "savvy" while just 9% reached for the description "cheap".

Interestingly, some 71% said they would consider using a coupon on a date and would not attempt to hide it.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal; additional content by Warc staff