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Swapping Socialising for Staying In: How a Skint Mind-Set Is Shaping Our Social Lives

08/12/2014 22:50 GMT | Updated 07/02/2015 10:59 GMT

Since the recession first gripped the nation over five years ago, the majority of the general public have been much more frugal with their funds. When combined with fluctuating unemployment rates, stagnating wages and a rise in inflation, many of us sacrifice our social lives in order to pay for the priorities in life.

Although we're starting to see a rather sluggish recovery, the British public still don't feel that their bank accounts are buoyant enough for non-essential expenses - a report from Deloitte shows that our confidence in the amount of disposable income we have is still at a measly -25%.

When this cut-price thinking pattern has us even changing the way we eat (we're eating less of our 5 a day due to the cost), it's no surprise that it has an impact on how we entertain ourselves.

Skipping the cinema

Catching a film at the cinema was once a firm favourite to fill our free time, but it seems that the silver screen is losing its allure, seeing a huge decline in audience numbers. In 2013 over 165.5 million people attended the cinema, which was the lowest viewing figures since 2008 - incidentally the same year that the credit crunch kicked in.

The reason behind this sharp drop in cinema outings? The cost.

69% of people interviewed in a YouGov survey said that the price of a cinema ticket is what stops them from going, and two thirds believed that this form of entertainment doesn't provide good value for money. As the grand sum for one adult cinema ticket can reach the dizzying heights of £13 in urban areas such as London, it's no surprise that austerity-hit audiences feel that they're being priced out of the pictures.

Settling on the sofa

Television has long been a staple in our sitting rooms but more of us are relying on it to subsidise our social lives as we aim to save pennies by staying put on the sofa.

As the availability of on-demand programming increases, people now have more choice over what they watch and when, which participants in the cinema attendance survey stated was important to them. As a result, catch-up television now accounts for a fifth of the nation's TV watching activity.

This greater control and choice means that a quarter of adults admit that they watch more television now than they did five years ago. A collaborative research project by the MediaGuardian and Deloitte suggests that the reason we spend so much time sat in front of the box is because it provides a constant stream of high-quality entertainment at a low cost.

Take-up of subscription services have increased by 40% in just five years. It's no wonder when a service such as Netflix provides access to hundreds of films and television programmes for just £6.99 but the average cost of a cinema ticket is just 46p cheaper. Consumers are getting much more for their money by staying at home.

Entertainment as an investment

Although the public are cutting down on more "everyday" entertainment expenses such as going to the cinema, they are happy to spend their money on entertainment that gives them a greater return on their investment.

14,587,276 people watched performances on London's West End in 2013 which increased box office sales by 11% from the previous year.

Although theatre tickets are pricey - the most expensive ticket last year was £97.50 to see Billy Elliot - it would seem that audiences are willing to dig deeper into their pockets occasionally for an experience that gives a greater value for money. After all, a stage show is much more immersive and makes memories that will last a long time, whereas a trip to the cinema or the pub provides light entertainment for one evening that will soon be forgotten.

So while some areas of the UK entertainment industry are adversely affected by the frugal attitudes of the penny-pinching public, those that offer more for their money are seeing an uplift. In the meantime, more of us are likely to be content spending our social lives curled up on the sofa with the latest series of Orange is the New Black than going out.