Shoppers realise they do not need to stockpile, spending research suggests

Vicky Shaw, PA Personal Finance Correspondent
·2-min read

The prospect of lockdown measures being ratcheted up has not been mirrored by new spikes in supermarket spending, analysis suggests.

Nationwide Building Society looked at its debit card data to shed light on spending trends.

It said that spending in supermarkets has remained generally up compared with a year ago and just before the lockdown in March.

Between August 10 and October 4, spending was up by 23% year-on-year and by 10% compared with January 27 to March 22 – just before the lockdown.

But it said its debit card data also shows there were no sudden or marked weekly spikes across the period of August 10 to October 4, despite the prospect of potential further lockdown measures at that time.

Nationwide said the general increase in supermarket spending using cards is likely to be due to the contactless limit having recently increased to £45 and people doing smaller but regular restocks of their cupboards.

Mark Nalder, Nationwide’s head of payments, said: “It’s clear from our latest spending data that people have adjusted to lockdown measures and how they work, realising that supermarkets will still be open and there isn’t the perceived need to stockpile food, drink and essentials in such quantities.

“Our analysis shows that while average spend in supermarkets is up overall, and by a reasonable margin, there have not been the same weekly surges in supermarket spend that were seen in the run-up to the national lockdown.”

The analysis also found a surge in pub and restaurant spending during Eat Out to Help Out, which ran on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays in August.

Spending on Mondays, for example, increased by 29% in the four weeks of the scheme compared with the same period immediately prior. A similar increase in spending was also seen on Tuesdays (27%) and Wednesdays (28%).

Nationwide also found that although spending in restaurants and pubs at the end of the week and weekend also increased, it was a much smaller uplift of 10% on Fridays, 13% on Saturdays and 17% on Sundays.

Analysis between September 1 to 27 after the scheme ended found that Fridays and Saturdays were the only days to see spending increase, as people perhaps returned to their previous habits.

Mr Nalder said: “Eat Out to Help Out was a resounding success while it lasted although as our data shows, once it ended spend across food venues followed suit.

“While many establishments have continued to offer their own versions of weekday discounts, the pattern of eating out has largely reverted back to the back end of the week, with Friday and Saturday the most popular days.”