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BLOG: Don’t feel guilted into going shopping

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At long last, the nation’s shops, pubs and restaurants are open once more.

Whether you want a pint, a pizza or a pair of shoes, Brits can hit the high street again. And hit the high street we have, with newspapers and TV reports full of images of massive queues at Primark and the like as we finally get in a little in-person retail therapy.

There have been suggestions that now the shops are open again, the nation is set to go on an enormous spending spree. But is that really going to happen? And is it even a good idea?

Building up our savings

Make no mistake, the pandemic has been incredibly tough for millions of people. Plenty of Brits were struggling to get by before Covid hit our shores, and the reduced incomes they have had to survive on due to furlough, job losses or simply reduced work will have only made that situation more testing.

However, there’s no escaping the fact that for others it’s been a time of some serious money saving. A study this week from the publisher Future suggested that across the nation we’ve built up a massive £245bn in savings, and it’s certainly not the only research to highlight the fact that as a nation we are sat on far more cash than has historically been the case. In fact the Office for National Statistics reckons our savings pots are at record highs.

The reasoning is pretty simple ‒ we haven’t had anywhere to spend that money. Shops have been closed, pubs have had the shutters down, and many people haven’t had a holiday either. An awful lot of the money we normally spend has instead remained in our bank accounts.

The thinking goes that now the shops are open again, the taps are set to be opened and all of that extra cash we’ve saved will be splashed out on a nationwide shopping splurge.

Indeed, there have been plenty of voices across the various industries actively encouraging Brits to go out spending, in the hope that this will provide some support to those businesses that have been shuttered for months, helping them to survive.

I’m not spending

Despite the talk of a spending splurge, the reality is that not everyone is so keen to get out and splash the cash.

A new study by money management app Plum revealed that more than half (55%) of people who have built up savings since the pandemic do not intend to spend that money in the coming 12 months.

Of those, around three in five (58%) are putting the money towards a long-term goal like a house deposit, while more than a quarter (27%) are using it to build an emergency savings safety net. Given the sheer number of families who didn’t have a penny in savings when Covid reached the UK, that seems like a very sensible decision.

Don’t feel guilty

A study out this week found that four in 10 people are worried about being pressured into socialising now that pubs and restaurants are open again.

But those pressures are there too for shopping. We are being urged to get out and spend, to support the British high street and ensure that those businesses remain.

While it’s true that it makes sense to back those firms and businesses that you want to see thrive in the future, the idea that you should head out and spend like a sailor on shore leave simply because you’ve got a few quid in your pocket is for the birds. 

As bizarre as it may seem, the pandemic has actually helped some people get their finances onto a more secure footing. They shouldn’t be guilted into throwing that cash away just because the shops are open once more.

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