Global survey: the UK has the highest rate of pandemic savers among 17 countries and regions

Eir NolsoeData Journalist
June 22, 2021, 9:21 AM UTC

One in three Britons increased their savings during the pandemic, which is higher than in countries like France, Germany and the US

The coronavirus outbreak plunged the UK into the deepest recession in 300 years. The impact on Britons’ finances nearly a year and a half since the start of the crisis is clear: three in ten people (31%) were forced to cut back on non-essential spending, while one in six (16%) have had to rely on their savings to get by, and some 7% have increased their debts.

But a small group have emerged better off. A third of Britons (32%) say they’ve been able to save more since the pandemic began – the highest among 17 countries and regions. This is similar to Denmark (31%) but much higher than in other European countries like Germany (20%), France (19%) and Spain (15%).

The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has previously said that UK homeworkers who have accumulated savings during lockdown need to spend heavily this year to restore the economy. And there are clear signs this is happening: UK retail sales saw the highest increase in May since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, and economists are starting to become concerned about prices rising too quickly.

But many savers would prefer to hold on to most of their excess savings during the pandemic. Half of UK savers (50%) say they will spend some but less than half of the extra cash, while another one in eight (12%) insist they won’t spend a penny.

Around one in four savers (27%) have taken Sunak’s message to heart and plan to part with half or more of what they’ve put aside.

Savers in India are the keenest to splurge their lockdown savings, with more than one in three (36%) planning to spend half or more before the end of the year. This includes some 14% who expect to spend it all.

How does the financial impact from COVID-19 compare across countries and regions?

Around one in four people in the UK (27%) say their household finances have suffered since March 2020. This is similar to the US and Germany (26% each), while Sweden (20%) and Denmark (12%) saw the lowest levels among the countries and regions in the survey.

In countries and regions like India, Mexico and Hong Kong between 46-52% of the populations say their household is worse off now than before the pandemic.

But while many people have suffered financially, some say their household’s situation has improved. This is the case for around one in five Britons (18%) – almost three times as many as in Italy (7%), which has the lowest share of people seeing their finances improve. Indonesia has the highest proportion of people who say their financial situation has improved at 30%.

See the full results here