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NATION’S SPENDING HABITS: Brits splash the cash on gardening, pets and dating in lockdown


Have your spending habits changed this year compared to the last - certainly less online shopping for me in 2021 as independents opened.

What about you?

Research from Nationwide Building Society  says 2021 has seen increased spending on dating and gardening - those emotional connections we’ve craved...

Nationwide’s latest quarterly spending report, takes into account over 450 million transactions made by members between January and March.

It revealed:

Spending on pets up to £116.8m in the first quarter of 2021

Travel spend fell by 67% to £85.3 million

With overall transactions falling by 8% compare to 2020.

It also t seems we’ve all become slightly more savvy with our smartphones, digital payments are up 47%, with card payments down 23%

Two main categories have been outlined for spending by Nationwide:

Essential Spend
With lockdown measures continuing throughout the vast majority of the period, it is perhaps no surprise that travel saw some of the biggest decreases year on year. As well as essential costs falling, transactions also fell by 8 per cent compared to last year.

Travel spend (e.g. public transport, taxis) fell by 67% to £85.3 million with the average transaction value over the three-month period £7.86 compared to £10.77 last year. Likewise, spending on motoring also dropped by 26% to £461.9 million and with an average transaction of £109.53, while spending on fuel and electric charging reduced by 24% to £477.3 million.

However, spending on pets and supermarkets bucked the downward trend, as people take more time out to look after their furry and feathered friends. Spending on pets was the biggest increase in essential spend, with £116.8 million splashed out in the first quarter of the year – an increase of 22% on the same period in 2020 – with an average spend per transaction of £44.80. This growth in spend is likely a symptom of greater pet ownership, with data from the Pet Food Manufacturers Association revealing a total of 3.2 million households have acquired a pet since the start of the pandemic1.

Supermarket spend jumped 16% to £2.7 billion, with the average transaction value being £21.98.

Non-essential spend

Non-essential spend in the first three month of 2021 was down significantly on the same period last year, mainly down to the impact of lockdown measures. The number of non-essential transactions fell by 21 per cent.

Airline travel dropped 81% to £31.7 million, and holiday spend reduced by 73% to £178.2 million. Spending on leisure & recreation, severely impacted by the closure of gyms and swimming pools, was down 43% to £129.5 million, while the 38% drop across the eating & drinking spend (£497.2 million) was partly mitigated with the fact many establishments have been able to offer a takeaway service.

However, general retailers & department stores saw the biggest year-on-year increase in both spending and number of transactions of all non-essential spending. There was a 62% increase in spend (£856.7m) and a 77% rise in transactions in January to March this year – a gap that captures the growth in online orders from the likes of Amazon as well as the websites of major department stores.

There are also some elements of lockdown life which we are reluctant to give up – notably our love for our gardens with a 53% increase in spending on gardening in January to March this year (to £62.4 million) highlights how lockdown has changed mindsets on how people see their open spaces, with many spending time turning to nature in lockdown, spending an average of £42.85 per transaction. DIY spend also increased, albeit by a smaller 16%, as people spent more time indoors.

Online dating also saw a significant increase in the first three months of the year, perhaps driven by optimism on the one side as lockdown restrictions begin to lift and on the other a sense of longer-term loneliness among many. Transactions increased by 46% year-on-year, while total spend is up by more than a third (34%) to £3.59 million.

Ways to pay

Over the first three months of the year, there has been a 47% increase in the amount spent via mobile payments in store, such as Apple Pay and Samsung Pay, as more and more people take advantage of the ability to use these mobile payment options on their online shopping.

At the same time, the number of transactions using contactless cards as payment in store has fallen by nearly 25%, presumably as a result of fewer shops being open in the first quarter of this year compared to 2020 and more and more people going online to make any purchases needed.

While the amount spent on debit cards has increased slightly (7%), there has been a significant drop in how much was spent on credit cards in the first three months of 2021 (down 23% on the same period last year) as many people decided to pay off existing debt instead.

About Nationwide Building Society

Nationwide is the world's largest building society as well as one of the largest savings providers and the second largest mortgages provider in the UK. It is also a major provider of current accounts, credit cards, ISAs and personal loans. Nationwide has around 16 million customers and members.

Customers can manage their finances in a branch, via the mobile app, on the telephone, internet and post. The Society has around 18,000 employees. Nationwide's head office is in Swindon with administration centres based in Northampton, Bournemouth and Dunfermline. The Society also has a number of call centres across the UK.

Find out more at https://www.nationwide.co.uk/


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