The warning signs They don’t stop jumping. This same Monday the Hosbec hotel management warned that the inflation was causing the hotel reservations for the summer they will not go at the expected pace, with the risk of falling below the 2019 figures again. The next day it was a Sigma Two survey that warned that the 40% of Spaniards that they had planned to travel this summer had decided modify your plans in the face of rising prices, and on Thursday it was the consulting firm Kantar that pointed out that more than half of consumers were inclined to cut expensesgiven the growing fear of a deterioration in the economic situation.
In other words, everything indicates that families have already begun to fasten your belt in the face of runaway inflation, which has reduced their purchasing power, and the prospect of a complex autumn, marked by uncertainty. And all this when the truth is that household spending – the main engine of the economy – had not yet managed to recover from the consequences of the pandemic, as reflected in the latest Family Budget Survey published by the INE.
A study that also highlights the slower rate at which this indicator has recovered in the Valencian Community, which has widened the gap that existed with the rest of the country.
Average budget of a family in the Valencian Community. Manuel R. Sala (@olovideo)
In this way, after collapsing around 12% during 2020 due to the effects of confinement and mobility restrictions, the average expenditure per household in the autonomous community rose by 8.3% in 2021, in what represents one of the largest increases in the historical series. An increase that, however, did not serve to recover all the lost ground. Specifically, it was almost 5% below.
In absolute terms, this means that, if in 2019 an average family in the province had a budget of €29,444, last year it was still 28,057. A difference of 1,387 euros that was especially noted by bars, clothing stores or culture, since they are the sections where the most continued to be cut.
Although the evolution was similar throughout the country, the truth is that these two years the expenditure of autonomous households has moved away from the national average, a direct consequence of the greater impact that the pandemic had on the economy of the Community, with a great weight of tourism. In this way, if before the arrival of covid, an average Valencian family spent 798 euros less than those of the country as a whole, last year the difference was almost 1,200 euros, since the average budget of a Spanish household was 29,243 euros.
The province loses more than 2,000 businesses in the last decade
Everything pointed to the fact that in 2022, with the definitive end of the restrictions, consumption levels would return to the usual figures, but inflation and the increase in the cost of basic supplies have truncated this evolution. “We have associates who ensure that right now turnover continues 30% below of what was sold before the pandemic, ”says the general secretary of the Alicante Federation of Commerce (Facpyme), Ana Gosalbezwhich points out that the figures have never fully recovered and that pessimism is spreading among businesses for next fall.
“The savings that were generated in the first months of the pandemic, With the confinement, it has allowed many families to stretch and continue spending, but now there is a contraction in family consumption again, ”also points out the president of the Valencian Association of Users and Consumers (Avacu), Fernando Moner, which also foresees some complicated months ahead.
In this sense, Móner believes that we will once again see an increase in consumption at home and less consumption in bars and restaurants, as occurred in the first year of the pandemic.
This is bad news, if one takes into account that they had not yet completely reversed the changes in consumption patterns that led to the appearance of covid and the measures that were taken to contain it. Thus, according to INE data, the average expenditure per household on food and non-alcoholic beverages Last year it stood at 4,564 euros in the Valencian Community, which is 10% more than before the pandemic.
It is also over budget for alcoholic beverages and tobacco, with 575 euros, 13.7% more than in 2019; and, likewise, the item of household expenses grows -the most voluminous as it includes mortgages, supplies, insurance, etc.-, which now totals 8,958 euros, 3.7% more. Lastly, the sustained increase of 11.2% in healthwhich takes another 1,255 euros per year per family.
On the contrary, although there was a generalized recovery, the rest of the items that make up the usual budget of any family nucleus continue to be lower. For example, spending on restaurants and hotels In 2021, it was still more than 20% lower than usual before the pandemic, with an average of 2,344 euros, compared to 2,949 in 2019. A drop that, logically, had a direct impact on the cash of these establishments, which only with the end of the sixth wave did they begin to experience a situation assimilable to what could be considered normal.
Another of the great victims of the change in habits caused by the coronavirus is the leisure and culture, to which families now allocate 25.4% less than two years ago, with an average of 1,324 euros per household. A debacle that practically only saves, within this section, the expense destined to the petswhich has increased by 20%, to 250 euros.
In the same way, in 2021 the contraction of the clothing and footwear consumption, with an average budget of 1,109 euros per household, 20.7% below the usual levels, due to the lower social life, which is what usually drives this type of purchase.
Lastly, it is noteworthy that spending on transportation It also remained around 18% below pre-Covid levels, despite the fact that fuel increases began in the last months of last year. However, the lower use of private vehicles due to teleworking and, above all, lower car sales -partly due to delays in deliveries caused by the lack of components- justify this evolution.
As for what will happen from now on, all the studies point in the same direction. Thus, a survey carried out by Cetelem revealed this very week that up to a 75% of those consulted already consider paralyzing some of the large purchases that he planned for the next six months. Travel, the renewal of mobile phones and cars will be the most affected, according to this study.
“What is clear is that there is going to be a rebound in consumption at home, but not even this is going to reach the previous levels because everything has become more expensive and families are already looking at what to cut,” insists the president of Avacu . The association itself released a study a few days ago in which it denounced the increase in prices that many basic foods have suffered in the last year. A rise that, in the most extreme case, that of watermelon, exceeded 100%.
Consumers lean towards white brands
The need to lower the bill for the shopping basket is again pushing consumers towards white brands, according to the latest barometer from the consulting firm Kantar. Thus, up to 51% of those surveyed consider that at the moment it is best to opt for this type of product, which they consider cheaper and with a guarantee, as it is the brand of the chains themselves. This is a level of favorable opinion towards this type of product unknown in Spain since 2012 and 2013, when the previous economic crisis was at its worst. Similarly, another study, in this case by Nielsen IQ for the association of manufacturers and distributors Aecoc, pointed out a few weeks ago that up to 70% of consumers pay more attention than before to prices and promotions. Something logical if you take into account that inflation is already over 10%, according to the latest data from the INE, while a large part of wages are frozen or with minimal increases.
This greater weight of prices when making the purchase decision has also provoked the reaction of some manufacturers, who are opting to use containers with less quantity of product in order to apparently maintain sales prices. A practice that has been denounced by organizations such as the OCU, which consider that it is a deception to consumers who, many times, are not aware of this reduction in the capacity of the container or its lower weight. In fact, this association promotes a campaign to unmask brands that use this tactic.