UK consumers look to savings, not loans, as the country faces confidence crisis, says GlobalData

The UK banks are set for a tough period as few consumers are willing to take the risk of availing loans despite the banks having an abundance of funding, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

The sudden change in the lives of millions of people has prompted many to draw a gloomy view of the future, in financial terms. GlobalData’s UK sentiment tracker shows that the future sentiment index has fallen to an all-time record low, with the number of consumers actively trying to save on the rise.

Katherine Long, Banking and Payments Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “Such a sudden change is matched by more specific consumer spending, with sharp falls in the number of people from all social grades making big purchases and large ticket items. This, combined with GlobalData’s index showing no deterioration in mortgage or rental payments, suggests a crisis of confidence rather than a full-blown financial crisis.”

However, significant numbers of consumers have dangerously low levels of personal savings, which they are likely to build up during the crisis. GlobalData’s 2020 banking and payments survey shows that 40% of the UK respondents have less than US$1,375 (£1,100) in cash savings, equivalent to a month’s rent in London.

Long continues: “The sudden drive to save at a time when demand is hemorrhaging could reinforce lower growth after the lockdown as money is ploughed into creating a personal safety net instead of domestic consumption.”

This environment presents a doubled-edged sword for banks. On the one hand, it will precipitate an inflow of deposits from savers nervous to spend or invest at this time, combined with record-low interest rates, leading to lower funding costs for banks.

Long concludes: “However, lenders find themselves in the difficult situation where normally creditworthy consumers will be averse to taking on new debts, while businesses struggling under the weight of COVID-19 will be the only ones receiving loans begrudgingly from banks, pressured by government.

“Banks could quickly end up in a situation where the only people eager to take on new debts are those that in normal times would be rejected – a risky prospect, both for individual lenders and the wider financial economy.”

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