Inflation is back on the agenda. Intrum’s annual European Consumer Payment report shows that Europeans are concerned about the impact of rising inflation on personal finances and debt. And while recovery rates differ by region, income and age groups – the pandemic has raised financial awareness among consumers, who are taking steps to improve their financial literacy and resilience.
Intrum’s annual survey, conducted in 24 European countries, suggests that the pandemic is casting a long shadow over consumers’ financial wellbeing.
“The pandemic has created a more financially polarised Europe. Countries and demographic groups have been affected unevenly; for example, low-income households and countries dependent on tourism and hospitality have suffered drops in income. At the same time, households and businesses have increased their savings ratio during the pandemic, with bank deposits increasing by more than 2 trillion euros,” says Anders Engdahl, President & CEO of Intrum, Europe’s leading credit services management company.
Recovery rates differ by region, income and age
Taken as a European average, almost four in 10 say they are worse off today than they were before the crisis began at the beginning of 2020. By region, this figure rises to 44 per cent in Eastern Europe and 43 per cent in Southern Europe, compared to just 31 per cent in Northern Europe.
Split by income, almost half of low-income households report being worse off today, compared to 32 per cent among their high-income peers.
Furthermore, the younger generation appears to have been hit harder than older groups. Four in 10 Generation Z (age 18-21) respondents say they are worse off than before the pandemic, compared with 30 per cent of Baby Boomers (age 55-64), for example.
Inflation back on the agenda
The report suggests that consumers are worried about rising prices having a negative impact on their personal finances. Concern over debt is also growing. Many believe that their financial wellbeing will be at risk for some time to come, with a significant minority expecting the crisis to affect their finances for at least another 12 months.
- As many as 69 per cent of respondents say they are concerned about the impact of inflation on their financial wellbeing
- This figure rises to 79 per cent in Southern Europe and 76 per cent in Eastern Europe, compared to 65 per cent in Central and Northern Europe
- Many would struggle to manage a significant rise in prices. Four in 10 have less than 20 per cent of their salary left after paying bills
Consumers look to improve their financial resilience
The pandemic has motivated consumers to improve their finances. As many as 59 per cent of respondents expect another crisis during their lifetime and are striving to be in a stronger financial position before a future crisis.
- 40 per cent are putting aside money or set targets to manage their bills
- 40 per cent of Generation Z consumers and 36 per cent of Millennials see the crisis as an opportunity to improve their finances
Parents recognise the importance of starting to educate their children about personal finances from an early age and are attempting to instil positive behaviours in the next generation.
- 57 per cent of parents spend time helping their child/children to understand financial terms and principles of financial management
- 56 per cent put aside more money as a safety net for their child/children
- 60 per cent encourage their child/children not to take on debt
About The European Consumer Payment Report 2021
The European Consumer Payment Report 2021 is an instrument for gaining insight into European consumers’ everyday lives, their spending and ability to manage their household finances on a monthly basis. The report is based on an external survey conducted by Longitude in 24 countries in Europe. A total of 24,012 consumers participated in the 2021 edition of the survey. The fieldwork for the study was conducted between 21st of July and 26th of August, 2021.
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