Britons are set to rein in their spending despite building up £180 billion of savings in lockdown, according to new figures that cast doubt on hopes for a consumer-led rebound in the UK economy.
Nearly six in 10 (58%) households say their spending will either remain the same or drop in the coming months, a poll by Ipsos Mori has revealed.
The research – commissioned by a consumer insight panel led by Nationwide Building Society – signals consumers will be reluctant to dip into their savings pots, which could dampen expectations for a roaring economic recovery this year.
The Bank of England recently hiked its outlook for UK growth to 7.25% in 2021 – the best year of growth since 1941 – but this was largely on the back of a surge in pent-up consumer demand.
It has estimated that households are sitting on £180 billion of extra savings since the first lockdown.
The survey found that more than half of those polled are already spending less, or considering spending less as a result of Covid-19, with 45% saving more and three-quarters wanting to put more by to protect themselves against risk and uncertainty.
Nationwide – whose consumer insight panel also includes the likes of supermarket Asda, B&Q owner Kingfisher and consumer group Which? – said forecasts that Britain will see a “return to rampant consumerism after the pandemic could be wide of the mark”.
Ipsos said the findings showed more people disagree with the “live for today” mantra than agreeing for the first time since 1999.
Joe Garner, chief executive of Nationwide, said: “The pandemic has acted as a reset button to a long-term culture of consumer hedonism.
“Lockdown has had a reversing effect on how we see our money – from a means to spend to a means of protecting ourselves against uncertainty and focussing on what’s important.”
Ben Page, chief executive of Ipsos Mori, added: “The public are not yet ready for a Roaring Twenties moment: prudence on saving and spending prevails and hedonist tendencies are at a 20-year low.”