HomeNewsWomen More Likely to Make Spending Cutbacks - On Everything Except Cosmetics
Women More Likely to Make Spending Cutbacks - On Everything Except Cosmetics

Women More Likely to Make Spending Cutbacks - On Everything Except Cosmetics

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The cost of living crisis has prompted widespread concern and heavy news coverage. But thus far, journalists have largely had to base their reports on guesswork and conjecture.

This has all changed with the release of nationwide survey data, revealing exactly how UK consumers are changing their spending habits in response to inflation. And the results have proven to shed light not just on the cost of living crisis – but also on gender splits within this impact. has analysed the data in detail, demonstrating the dramatic difference between how men and women have responded to inflation.

Key takeaways:

  • UK males are more likely than females to say they have not made any cutbacks in spending, across a range of categories from luxury goods to household essentials
  • The one exception to this trend is cosmetics, which men are nearly twice as likely to have reduced spending on
  • Women are more likely to have either reduced the frequency with which they buy, or to have switched to cheaper alternatives amidst fast-rising inflation

Gendered cutbacks

Across 18 different product categories, research has found men are more likely to say they have made no cutbacks on spending since November 2021. The only exception was cosmetics, where 13% more men said they had made some form of cutback – though 59% claimed never to have spent on cosmetics in the first place.

Many will be unsurprised by the difference in cosmetics cutbacks. But the data does not tell a simple gendered story: men were less likely to cutback on “beauty services”, and some of the biggest gaps in cutbacks are to be found in categories such as “clothes” (where 13% more men refuse to cutback), “pursuing a hobby” (also 13%) and “luxury items” (10%).

On average, the difference between the genders is relatively small – men were 5.94% more likely to say they had made no cutbacks, across all categories. But the consistency of the difference speaks to a larger trend which may have important implications for the cost of living crisis. 

Why are women cutting back more?

There is no conclusive answer as to why women are making more cutbacks on their spending. However, one theory is that women are more acutely aware of inflation than men. Researchers have found that women often perceive price inflation as several percentage points higher than men – and are therefore more likely to change their behaviour in accordance with it.

Why would women perceive inflation as higher than men? Researchers note that females are disproportionately likely to be in charge of household shopping, including items like groceries whose pricing is very volatile. This means they are more likely to note small changes in prices – and conclude that cutbacks need to be made.

The pink tax

This explanation only tells part of the story, however. It is also important to note that products marketed specifically towards women tend to cost more – a phenomenon often referred to as the “pink tax” – and inflation disproportionately affects many of these products. 

For example: since June 2020, the price of women’s blouses has risen by 29% – while the price of men’s shirts has actually dropped 6% on average. And while there are a few exceptions – the price of men’s jeans has risen 17% more than women’s in the last year – this trend is relatively consistent across categories.

Jonathan Merry, CEO of, commented:

“These results point to a worrying trend in consumer behaviour. If women are, on average, making more cutbacks than men, we may see the crisis impacting one gender more severely than the other, in terms of mental health. We may also see skewed economic impact, with one gender losing out in the longer term.”

Jonathan Merry, CEO of
Toby McInnis
Toby McInnis
Toby McInnis is a writer based in London. He works with some of the fastest growing startups in the world, covering industries as diverse as finance, technology, logistics and healthcare.