Soaring inflation, high fuel cost, rising cost of education and health insurance premiums have eroded the real incomes of middle-class Indian families, with household savings rates dropping by a staggering 40 per cent in the last three years, says an Assocham survey.
"Poor households are unable to maintain the consumption levels at current prices while middle income families find their purchasing power erode fast, thus having far less surplus money," Assocham secretary general D S Rawat said.
The survey found that net financial savings by Indians, which include deposits with banks and non-banking finance companies, cash, investment in stocks, debentures and small savings instruments have dipped considerably because of rise in household financial liabilities.
The majority of the families in metropolitans are slashing spending, trying to save money and go for value buying while shopping. One in four said they are going to try to increase their income and for this would like to switching to a better-paid job, taking a second job or working overtime.
Moreover, high inflation is putting enormous pressure on companies too in terms of high input cost, coupled with demands for higher salary hikes. 82 per cent of the respondents said the salary hike last year was not in sync with the cost of living which has gone up by almost 40-45 per cent and thus were expecting higher salaries, the survey found.
Besides, 82 per cent of the respondents in metro cities said that they have been falling behind financially and their standard of living has been impacted by at least 25 per cent.
To cope with inflation, most middle and lower income families have cut back consumption wherever possible, are buying cheaper products, have postponed the purchase of little indulgences and cut out discretionary spend altogether.
A majority of working Indians are slashing spending, trying to save money and shopping in cheaper shops, according to the survey, while one in four said they will try to increase their income to stay financially afloat, by switching to a better-paid job, taking a second job or working overtime.
The survey was conducted in a period of three months beginning January to March 2013 in major places like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Pune, Chandigarh and Dehradun, among others.
Costlier fruits and vegetables such as onions and tomatoes drove retail inflation to 10.09 per cent in October. Costlier food items, including vegetables, also pushed the October wholesale inflation to 7 per cent, the highest in current financial year.