The nation's spending habits have undergone huge changes in recent weeks, so how likely is it we'll return to our old ways? Vicky Shaw takes a look.

The nation's shopping habits have undergone dramatic changes in recent weeks. More people have turned to home deliveries and have been trying out new ways of ordering, while many are also looking for ways to cut their spending due to a reduced household income.

And with many having adjusted to new shopping routines, evidence is now emerging that some of the new shopping and spending habits formed during coronavirus crisis may last way beyond lockdown.

Here's a look at how people's spending habits have changed, and what impact it could have in the longer term...

How has cash use changed?

Cash use had already been in a slow decline, but during the coronavirus outbreak the the number of cash withdrawals being made from ATMs has fallen sharply.

According to figures from ATM network Link, transactions recently fell by 60% compared with a year earlier. Link's consumer research suggests three-quarters (75%) of us are using less cash, with more than half (58%) using cash a lot less.

But a significant number still rely heavily on cash, with 23% using the same amount of cash or more. One in seven (14%) people also say they're keeping more cash at home in case of emergencies.

How have online shopping habits changed?

More than 430 million deliveries took place across the UK in just the first month of the lockdown, according to estimates from Nationwide Building Society. Its consumer research found people received an average of eight deliveries over the first month of the stricter social distancing measures.

This includes supermarket deliveries and other online shopping, food boxes and takeaway meals, medicines and drop-offs from family members, friends and neighbours. Pets haven't been left out either, with people who have ordered items for them receiving around six home deliveries a month for their beloved animals.

Local shops are also playing a vital part in keeping their communities going. The Association of Convenience Stores says around two-thirds of local shops now offer some form of delivery service - up from just over one in 10 in 2019.

What's the impact on the grocery sector?

Market research agency Mintel predicts the online grocery market is set to grow by a third (33%) this year, to reach an estimated value of £16.8 billion. The boost is expected to last beyond 2020. Mintel expects the sector to continue to grow, to an estimated £17.9 billion by 2024.

Mintel found many people are trying to limit the time they spend in-store and nearly one in 10 (9%) are using 'click-and-collect' services more.

What about other sectors?

Many sectors have seen the impact from households reducing their spending and having fewer opportunities to socialise than usual. Nationwide Building Society has analysed its customers' current account spending, comparing the four weeks leading up to April 12 with the same period a year earlier.

It found that, despite some restaurants now offering takeaway options, spending on the restaurant sector was down by 70%. With fewer occasions to dress to impress, spending on clothing was down by 50%. But spending on hardware stores was up by a third (33%) as people spent more time at home and in the garden.

People have also been making the most of entertainment services from home. found two in five have signed up to new subscriptions, such as TV and music streaming, fitness regimes and product deliveries, since the coronavirus outbreak started.

So we see more permanent changes in shopping habits?

Whether it's because they prefer some of their new shopping habits, or simply can't afford to go back to their previous ways, it seems some people do intend to change their spending longer term.

According to Nationwide's research, nearly two-thirds (62%) of people say their spending habits have changed - and around a third (32%) will be more mindful of their purchases in future.

With many households facing uncertain incomes, 31% will look to cut back on non-essentials. A quarter (25%) pledge to waste less food.

Mark Nalder, Nationwide's head of payments strategy and service, says: "While the number of shopping deliveries has significantly increased since lockdown, overall spend has reduced."

He says it will be interesting to see any changes people make, "especially as many say they are going to pay closer attention to their finances in future, be less wasteful and cut back on non-essential purchases".


When parents are feeling under pressure to keep kids entertained and occupied, it's tempting just to say yes to any request they may make. But with budgets tight for many families, requests for new toys and gadgets may also be adding to the financial strain some parents are under right now.

For those who don't want to upset their child by saying no, or maybe just don't want to face a tantrum, help is at hand. Tony Hughes, chief executive at sales and negotiations experts Huthwaite International, has some tips developed in the business field that may also be applied to parenting:

1. Don't start negotiating too early. Parents will start saying: "If you do that, maybe next week you can have..." whatever it is. The trouble is that children don't always understand the word "maybe".

2. Avoid agreeing on issues in small stages. If you have made gradual concessions, you will have nothing left to bargain with.

3. Don't always just give in. Talk about trade-offs and compromise. Children may earn rewards for good behaviour or doing household chores, for example.

4. Parents on a tight budget may be worried about seeming inflexible. It may be helpful to think about the least amount of money you'd be willing to spend on something during this period - and the most you can afford to spend. Have a target figure somewhere within the upper and lower range. This will allow you a bit of room to alter the amount slightly, and help you stay on top of spending.

5. Treats don't always need to involve spending money - but they can still be hugely rewarding for children.

For example, you could put on a special 'movie afternoon' in your living room with a film and your child's favourite snacks.

6. Logic doesn't always win an argument. Avoid giving long chains of reasons for saying "no" to something. If you must decline a request, try to be firm by giving a single strong reason.


Financial fact: The number of mortgages being approved to home buyers fell to a seven-year low in March, according to figures from the Bank of England. The figures show that 56,161 mortgages were approved for house purchase in March.

This was a drop-off of nearly a quarter (24%) compared with the previous month, and the lowest monthly total since 54,341 approvals were recorded in March 2013.


Nearly eight in 10 adults (77%) say they are happy with their homes, according to a UK survey from HomeOwners Alliance and Nine in 10 (91%) over-55s are happy with their home, compared with 79% of 25-34-year-olds.

Paula Higgins, chief executive, Homeowners Alliance, says: "The things we didn't get right from the start are really starting to nag us."


Drivers who are concerned about paying their car insurance premiums are advised to contact their insurer as soon as possible, rather than wait for any potential refund. Lee Griffin, chief executive and one of the founders of GoCompare, says that with fewer cars on the road, it will be interesting to see what insurers are able to do to help their customers.

"But anyone who is struggling financially right now shouldn't wait for their insurer to offer a refund," says Griffin. "For example, many insurers are already helping customers with payment deferrals, enabling them to reduce their stated mileage to get a lower premium, or to change to third party, fire and theft cover, if it's appropriate. So, contact your insurer and ask what they can do to help."


Energy suppliers have been launching a raft of cheap new fixed deals, the likes of which have not seen since 2018, according to a website. Lower wholesale energy prices have resulted in the market trend, energy switching service said.

Tom Lyon, director of energy for, says: "Switching supplier could help consumers save significant amounts."