Smarty unveils research on the nation’s lockdown spending habits

As the nation continues to fight its way through lockdown 3.0, it seems many of us have been turning to retail therapy to cope with the boredom. 

We commissioned research on behalf of mobile network SMARTY to unearth the nation’s lockdown spending habits and worked with TV presenter and shopping expert, Anna Richardson, to generate news coverage. 

As lockdown living leads Brits to reassess much of their lives, our research suggests it may have created a permanent change in spending habits.

70% of the nation claim to have been able to save since the first lockdown began – and 69% even setting aside up to £10,000.

Four fifths (80%) have managed to cut back on not eating out at restaurants – with 55% saving up to £250 as a result. The closing of non-essential shops has also allowed 79% of individuals to stash away an average of £76, and less pennies on pints has helped over two thirds (64%) cut back an average of £70 on their spending since lockdown began.

A lack of commuting (57%), buying coffee or lunch out (61%) and trips to beauty salons (50%) are other ways in which the nation claims to have boosted their bank balance, with Londoners – unsurprisingly – benefitting most from not traveling into work (£73 vs a national average of £52), buying takeaway lunch (£72 vs a national average of £42) and quitting the gym (£66 vs national average of £27).

Over half (56%) say time at home has allowed them to be savvier spenders, with many claiming priorities when shopping now include transparency and honesty (77%), taking time to find the best deals (62%) and flexibility (44%). Over a third (35%) have even said that during the pandemic they no longer want to be tied into any long-term purchases. 

As the nation looks to the future, the top post-pandemic purchases include holidays (42%), a new car (20%) and even looking to put a deposit down for a house (16%) – with one in four (26%) aged 18 – 24 saying they have earmarked lockdown savings for investing in their future home.

The new findings also suggest Brits’ attitude to spending appears to be changing permanently, with over two thirds (67%) admitting they have become a savvier spender since the first lockdown and eight out of 10 (82%) saying they’ll be frugal with their finances in future. Almost half (49%) claim they wish they could have saved more during lockdown.

Despite this, food shopping (41%), household bills (26%), streaming services (19%) and online clothes shopping (16%) are all areas where spending has in fact increased during lockdown. Five per cent of those polled even said they’re spending more money on their pets.

The nation’s top post-lockdown spending changes:

  • Spending less on unnecessary items (49%)
  • Shopping around for best deals (39%)
  • Eating out in restaurants less and cooking more at home (32%)
  • Taking own lunch into work (28%)
  • Scrutinising bills (26%)
  • Not going to pub (23%)
  • Not buying coffee out (20%)
  • Opting for at home DIY beauty kits (15%)
  • Quitting the gym (9%)
  • Seeing friends less (8%)

TV presenter and shopping expert Anna Richardson commented: “Lockdown has meant that we haven’t been able to spend money on lots of things we used to. After such a long time without them, we’re reassessing what’s important and what’s not.

“For some of us it’s brought home just how much we would fritter away on the little things – and now we want to make sure that when we spend our hard-earned money it’s on things that make a difference to our lives”.

Elin Mclean, general manager at SMARTY Mobile added: “Our changing habits are not just about what we no longer spend money on, but also about being savvier where we do spend. With more time to ourselves – and a clearer view of what’s truly important – we’re better able to look carefully at our outgoings, like utilities, contracts and special offers, and assess if they truly are a good deal and whether we actually need them or not. 

“During these uncertain times, people are looking for flexibility and transparency more than ever before – and as our research shows, consumers are increasingly prepared to take matters into their own hands to spend smarter”.

The UK’s top lockdown savings:

  • Not eating out (£82) – 80% 
  • Clothes shopping (£76) – 79%
  • Nights out (£70) – 64% 
  • Not commuting (£52) – 57%
  • Not spending money on lunch (£42) – 61%
  • Not going out for brunch (£36) – 51%
  • DIY beauty treatments (£34) – 50% 
  • Taxis (£32) – 46% 
  • Shopping around for better deals (£28) – 43% 
  • Gym membership (£27) – 34%

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