Consumers likely to play safe rather than spend, spend, spend

Half (51%) of people in the UK who have built up their savings during the pandemic intend to hang onto these funds, new research suggests.

The findings pose a challenge to the view that the UK economy will bounce back in 2021 due to a sudden release of pent-up consumer demand, says Ipsos MORI, which surveyed more than 3,000 people for Nationwide Building Society’s UK Consumer Insight Panel.

What’s more, this comes at a time of record-low interest rates, when there has never been less of an incentive to save.

Three quarters (74%) of those who took part in the survey said they want to save more than they have done in the past, as the pandemic has shown the world is full of risk and uncertainty. And eight in ten (79%) said they want to save enough money so they don’t need to worry about losing their job.

Looking at public values, the findings also reveal that hedonistic sentiment among the UK public has fallen to its lowest level for 22 years. Between 1999 and 2019, an increasingly large proportion of UK residents agreed with the idea that “The important thing is to enjoy life today, tomorrow will take care of itself”.

Two years later this progression has been reversed, with less than half (46%) of the public agreeing. For the first time since 1999, more disagree than agree with this statement.

“At this stage in the recovery, the data suggests that ‘The Great Unlock’ could be less like the roaring twenties, and more like the 1950s – with the nation adopting a type of post-war austerity,” Ipsos MORI concluded.