A nationally representative survey by Finder of 1,010 respondents revealed almost one in five (19 per cent) Australians – equivalent to 3.8 million people – admitted to stealing staples in the past 12 months.
The research found 9 per cent of Aussies had stolen items from the supermarket at the self-checkout, while 10 per cent cheated at the self-serve check-outs by deliberately lying about what they had scanned.
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That’s 2 million people who scanned cheaper items - such as an onion - but bagged a more expensive one - such as an avocado - in the past 12 months.
Richard Whitten, money expert at Finder, said some Australians were struggling to afford basic necessities.
“A lot of people are doing it tough as the cost of essentials like petrol, rent and energy have risen sharply,” Whitten said.
“The result is a growing subset of Australians who are stealing consumables to survive.”
The average Australian spends $526.86 a month on groceries – with certain items spiking considerably in the past 12 months.
Additionally, Finder’s research found 6 per cent of Aussies had driven away from the petrol bowser without paying for filling up.
With Australians being advised to brace for further price increases, Whitten said there were safer ways to cut back on costs.
“Loyalty doesn’t pay – shop around for the best deal on all your expenses,” he said.
“Simple switches could save you hundreds of dollars a year.”
Whitten said if you were really struggling to make ends meet, to contact your bill providers and ask them about their hardship policies or payment plans.
“They can work with you to alleviate some stress and get on the front foot,” he said.