Accidental savers 'to stay prudent' after lockdown

By Kevin Peachey
Personal finance correspondent, BBC News

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Consumers are likely to play safe as the UK emerges from lockdown rather spend like the "roaring 1920s", a survey suggests.

While millions have seen their finances hit by the pandemic, others have become accidental savers.

Research for a new Consumer Insights Panel suggests Covid uncertainty will mean the majority will remain prudent.

Forecasts suggest the UK economy is set for a strong rebound following the vaccination programme.

Savings safety

Millions of people have saved significant sums of money during lockdowns, owing to less commuting and fewer opportunities for leisure spending. The release of these pent-up funds is expected to boost the UK economy.

However, the survey of more than 3,000 people found 74% of those asked wanted to save more than they had pre-pandemic. The risk and uncertainty highlighted by Covid meant many were keen to build a financial cushion.

Ben Page, chief executive of Ipsos MORI, which conducted the research, said consumers were likely to be more cautious with their spending than the mass consumerism of the post-war 1920s.

"The public are not yet ready for a Roaring 20s moment. Prudence on saving and spending prevails and hedonist tendencies are at a 20-year low," he said.

The survey also suggested that those who had saved during the pandemic were most likely to keep savings in cash in a bank account.

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Other findings include a clear difference in experience between those who were hit hard financially in the past year compared to those able to save more.

Some 48% of people asked also said they were keen to return to stores to do their shopping compared with 34% who would continue to do most of their shopping online.

The Consumer Insights Panel has been set up by Nationwide Building Society and consists of representatives from businesses, charities and consumer groups.

"We must protect those who are struggling financially, as they have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and we cannot let them slip through the net," said Joe Garner, Nationwide's chief executive, on behalf of the panel.

He added that work needed to be done to increase interest among householders on making environmentally-sound improvements to their homes. 

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