Inflation’s impact on European consumer behaviour good news for Spain

How inflation will affect European consumer behavior in 2022 – good news for Spain. Credit: LiliGraphie/

Inflation, Covid and the war in Ukraine have affected consumer behavior in Europe, new data shows.

But there is good news for those living in Spain who are spending less and saving more despite record high inflation.

On the occasion of World Savings Day, online bank N26 conducted a customer survey to find out how Europeans are coping with the effects of inflation.

The data shows which countries are still spending the most on vacations and restaurants, whose incomes are rising, and how spending is changing between men and women.

The spending and savings survey of more than 380,000 consumers across five European markets (Spain, Germany, Austria, France and Italy) was conducted between January and August 2022.

Despite record high inflation, Spanish customers saved the most between March and August this year. Of all the countries surveyed, Spain had the highest inflation.

However, Spanish customers increased their savings from an average of 4.6% (of their average income) in January and February to 7.2% in March, a relative increase of 57.2%.

In line with overall EU trends, Spanish consumers saved the most in March, at 11.1% of their income, or €177.89 on average.

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Of all the markets we studied, Spanish customers had the highest savings ratio at 6.6% of their income between January and August.

It was followed by Germany, where consumers saved an average of 5.1% of their income. In France, customers had a shaky start to the year, saving 0.1% of their monthly income (about €3.55) and are now in the dark.

Average savings of customers in Italy fell the most, and savings habits fluctuated the most in April, May and August, spending more than they earned.

Spanish and German government initiatives may have played a role in how much residents could save in March, when the Spanish government offered all Spanish drivers a 20 cents per liter gas rebate.

Furthermore, the “Iberian exception” approved by the European Commission in June, which limits the price of gas for power generation, has significantly reduced electricity bills.

Elsewhere in Europe, signs of inflation were particularly noticeable in the “food and groceries” and “transport and cars” categories, but Spaniards spent 1.0% less of their average income in these categories, showing a downward trend.

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At the same time, Germany’s €9 monthly pass for public transport and regional trains may have given Germans more opportunities to save.

Despite the gender pay gap, European women saved €17 more per month. The data shows that men earn significantly more than women (on average), roughly 39% more, in all countries surveyed.

However, between January and August, women consistently saved more than they earned, averaging 5.9% compared to men’s average of 3.7%. In real euros, this saved women an average of €112.20 per month, while men saved €95.20 per month over the same period.

March was the highest saving month for both men and women. In March, women and men accumulated the most absolute euros, with an average of 222.36 euros and 202.57 euros. These findings were the same in 2021, even though this coincided with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In every country surveyed, incomes rose between March and August compared to January and February. The average income of Austrians increased by 17.7% compared to January and February. In Germany, March-August revenue rose by an average of 6.9% compared to January and February.

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Savings fell the most in Italy. After managing to accumulate 4% of revenue in January-February, it dropped to an average of 0.6% in March-August.

Germans spent more money in bars and restaurants than any other country. Their spending in this category increased from 3.2% of their average income in January and February to 4.3% in March, a relative increase of 31.9%.

Austrians followed suit, where spending rose to 26.5%, from 3.6% to 4.6% of average income.

This year, Spain spent 9.3% of its income on the socialization category, the least in line with its fiscal responsibility. At the same time, they increased their travel expenses by 68.8% (in total euros) between January and February and March and August.

German customers also reported a more modest but significant increase in holiday budgets, increasing by 53.9% (total euros spent) over the same period.

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