The rising costs of guilty pleasures

Consumers have tough financial decisions to make regarding their wants



With soaring inflation and the high cost of living, many people are becoming more selective about which luxuries and amenities they can afford.

For many, gone are the days of eating out three times a week, grabbing a cab rather than transit or hitting the nail salon every three weeks.

But some guilty pleasures are just too difficult to surrender.

Statistics Canada’s latest report shows that the consumer price index (CPI), a statistic that tracks price changes, rose 3.1 per cent in October on a year-over-year basis. CPI measures price changes, while cost-of-living inflation is the change in spending by households required to maintain a given standard of living. The largest contributors to the year-over-year CPI increase continued to be mortgage interest cost, food purchased from stores and rent.

Nathan Tinker, third year business management Langara student, said moved from Vernon to Vancouver for college and has noticed the difference in overall prices between the two locations. He’s much more careful opening up his wallet these days.

“I’m way more conscious about other luxuries that I probably won’t spend money on just because of the cost of living and the rest of the expenses that I have everyday life,” Tinker said.

Still, he refuses to compromise when it comes to golf and going to the gym.

Compromise is key

“I’m unwilling to give up golf,” he said. “I will pay a pretty hefty price to continue playing.”

Adrian Li, first-year web and mobile app design student at Langara, said she’s had to change what she normally spends money on that after living in Vancouver for six months because she has less time to work because of classes.

“In my hometown, I used to like go eat a lot outside but here it’s really expensive so I changed the habit, I cook a lot at home,” said Li.

She said she use to be able to watch movies at the cinema frequently, but not anymore.

A survey done by Restaurants Canada in 2023 showed that Canadians who bought dinner from a restaurant once a week or more dropped from 27 per cent to 22 per cent from December 2022 to January 2023.

Ani Tchakarova, founder and project manager at marketing firm Savor Digital in Vancouver, said that getting consumers to spend their initial dollar is the most difficult part of selling a product or service.

“Getting people to break their habits, getting people to spend more where you’re not use to spending more,” said Tchakarova. “That is probably the challenge that a lot of businesses are facing.”

For businesses hoping to keep customers returning despite inflation, customer-to-business relationships are more important than ever.

“They have to continue to show value to their customers, they have to continue providing a good product, a great service, a competition,” said Tchakarova. “I feel like in whatever industry it is, is higher and higher every day with new businesses opening up.”

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