According to the poll, around two in five (39%) say their outlay over the last month is less than what they would normally spend during a typical month, with around a quarter (26%) saying it is more. This is despite four in ten (40%) admitting the pandemic has left them with more disposable income.
This is backed up by Nationwide’s own internal data for total spending5. The Society has analysed its own current account data in the four weeks up to 12 April and found that debit card spend fell by 41 per cent compared to the same period in 2019, perhaps not surprising given the number of stores and outlets closed. Contactless use was down to 33 per cent of all transactions, from around typically 49 per cent.
Further analysis of Nationwide’s current account spending data for the same period shows a distinct year-on-year contrast:
- Restaurants: Spend down 70 per cent, despite some restaurants diversifying into offering takeaways.
- Clothes: Spend fell by 52 per cent as people are forced to say indoors and not need to dress to impress.
- Supermarkets: Spend up 25 per cent with each trip, online or instore, with average transactions of £25.
- TV subscriptions: Spend up by 10 per cent as the nation stays indoors to devour shows and box sets.
- Tech retailers: Spend down 10 per cent (average £60 each) but transactions still rose by 28 per cent.
- Hardware stores: Spend up 33 per cent and transactions up 41 per cent (average £26 each) as nation turns to DIY and gardening.
With many Brits trying to find ways to occupy themselves at home during lockdown, online retail therapy has played a major role, with those that do browse spending an average of 41 minutes per day. However, more than one in seven (15%) admit to spending more than hour per day perusing online shopping sites and apps – this rises 25 per cent of those aged 16 to 24.
According to the poll, a quarter (25%) of Brits have made an impulse purchase as a result of browsing more since lockdown began, with 16 to 24-year-olds more than twice as likely to make these on-the-spot decisions compared to those aged between 45 and 54, at 41 per cent compared to 20 per cent.
A change of ways:
One consequence of being in lockdown appears to be people’s perceptions of their own spending habits, with nearly two thirds (62%) admitting they have changed over the course of the lockdown. In fact, a month into lockdown and there has been a re-evaluation of how spending habits may change once the restrictions are lifted. Around a third (32%) will be more mindful of what they purchase in future, while 31 per cent will cut back on non-essential spending. A quarter (25%) pledge to waste less food, while the same amount (25%) plan to keep a more watchful eye on their finances. More than one in five (21%) will spend less going out.
Despite lots of people spending to keep themselves occupied, many are continuing to support charities, particularly during this current time – whether to raise money in support of the NHS, food banks or a range of charitable causes that are struggling during the outbreak. More than a third (34%) say they have donated money to charity since the lockdown measures were put in place, with the average amount donated at £41. More than one in 20 (7%) of those that have donated have given more than £100.
Mark Nalder, Nationwide’s Head of Payments Service & Strategy, said: “Looking at both our own customer data and research, we can see that the coronavirus pandemic and the accompanying lockdown restrictions are having a sizeable impact on how we spend while we all remain at home.
“Overall spend has reduced, with people admitting that the last month has seen them spend less because most stores remain closed. However, that doesn’t mean spending has ground to a complete halt, with home deliveries having significantly increased during lockdown. To keep individuals and families fed, occupied and entertained, we are turning to the internet to not only purchase the essentials but also a range of discretionary items that we deem vital to help enjoy life as much as we can despite the worries and restrictions.
“But as we move into the second month of lockdown, it will be interesting to see how spending behaviour continues, with many saying that they are going to pay closer attention to their finances in future, whether being less wasteful and cut back on non-essential purchases.”