SINGAPORE CITY: Around 70% of consumers in Singapore have altered their spending patterns as a result of the current financial crisis, while nearly three-quarters are now only buying the "essentials", a study from Nielsen has found.

Based on a survey of 1,000 households in the country, the research firm reports that rising food prices and an increase in the number of people eating at home, rather than going out, means average monthly outlay has increased by 14%.

In terms of specific categories, there has also been a 15% upturn in expenditure on fresh food, a total that rises to 27% among high-income shoppers.

Rather than using more traditional "wet markets", more consumers are acquiring this produce from hypermarkets, which have enjoyed a 53% improvement in their proportion of sector spending over the course of the last year as a result.

Some 37% of Nielsen's respondents are now buying the same products as previously, but in smaller portions, with a further 23% actively looking for price promotions, and 10% agreeing they visit "more shops to find the cheapest products".

Just 9% of the company's panel were trading down to own label brands, while 8% are using more coupons, and 5% have increased the amount of shopping they do at discount retailers.

In terms of the main products people are willing to cut back on, 23% of those taking part in the poll said chocolate was the first category where they would reduce their outlay, a figure falling to 19% for soft drinks, and 11% for "salty snack food".

Ooi Pin Pin, associate director, retailer services of The Nielsen Company Singapore, argued that while "some items are nice-to-haves", it is the "items that we cannot do without," that are enjoying improvements in expenditure.

Data sourced from Nielsen; additional content by WARC staff