Family spending gave its biggest annual jump in 2021, but is still 1,000 euros below 2019

The average expenditure per household increased by 8.3% in 2021, to 29,244 euros, compared to 2020. This is the highest year-on-year growth since the INE (National Statistics Institute) carried out the Family Budget Survey (EPF, since 2006 ), and is a consequence of the end of the COVID pandemic, although it already shows the impact of inflation.

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This spending by families is still almost 1,000 euros below that prior to the pandemic (30,243 euros in 2019) and far from the 31,772 euros to which it amounted in 2008, just before the Great Financial Crisis.

The largest increase in 2021 compared to 2020 occurs in hotels and restaurants, 31%, compared to the rest of the consumer groups collected by the INE. A clear example of the characteristics of the post-pandemic recovery and reopening, due to the end of restrictions on mobility and social contact for health reasons.

Households spent an average of 2,288 euros on hotels and restaurants in 2021: 536 euros more than in 2020 and 22% less than in 2019. It is the consumption group that suffers the largest gap compared to the pre-pandemic level, so it should continue accelerating household spending in 2022.

The goods and services in which spending has recovered compared to before the pandemic have been health (we spent 19% more in 2021 than before in 2017-19), food and beverages (14%) and housing and supplies (8% ).

Although families now face greater uncertainty due to the war and escalating inflation. A rise in prices originating in the international markets for oil, gas and other raw materials, which has triggered fuel and electricity, and bottlenecks in world trade, since mid-2021. And fueled since the end of February of this year due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has definitively infected practically the entire basket of goods and services.

Inflation and exit from the pandemic

A reflection of the exit from the pandemic was also the growth in spending on transportation, 18% more than in 2020, "and with an increase in all its components: purchase of vehicles, use of personal vehicles and transportation services," according to the report. INE. Households spent 489 euros more than in 2020, which placed the average expenditure on transport at 3,230 euros in 2021.

Along the same lines, the leisure and culture and clothing and footwear groups, with variations of 15%, stood at an average expenditure per household of 1,294 and 1,156 euros.

The pandemic and inflation define another particular feature of the recovery in average household spending. In 2020, marked by the Great Lockdown and subsequent restrictions, money spent on “food” and “housing and supplies” exceeded 50% of total household spending for the first time since 2006. In 2021, it remained just below half, close to that maximum, despite the lower impact of COVID. In part, as a result of inflation, which was concentrated in the last part of the year in electricity, heating and was already noticeable in the supermarket.

In 2021 compared to pre-pandemic levels (average from 2017 to 2019), spending on food and beverages, health, and housing and supplies increased in households of all income levels. In contrast, spending on hotels and restaurants did not recover in any quintile. In the poorest section (quintile 1) what increased the most was spending on education; while the richest group (quintile 5) allocated the most money to health.

Another very specific consequence of the end of the pandemic is the income that was more protected in 2021 by public policies and living conditions. The average expenditure of households made up of single people over 65 years of age, mostly pensioners, grew by almost 4% compared to the period prior to COVID.

Meanwhile, at the other extreme were single people under the age of 65, as well as couples with a child, whose average spending was almost 4% below the pre-pandemic level.

consumption slowdown

The GDP (gross domestic product) of Spain grew only 0.2% in the first quarter of 2022 vs. the fourth quarter, one tenth less than expected by the INEdue to the first impact of the omicron variant of COVID and after the war in Ukraine and the stoppage of the road transport sector.

Spain's GDP remains almost 3.5 points below pre-COVID levels, while economic activity in most developed economies has already fully recovered. The main reason is the reduction in household consumption between January and March, compared to the final quarter of 2021, by 2%, despite the strength of the labor market. In fact, this is the first contraction in this component of activity since the first quarter of 2021.

A consumption of families hit initially by contagion by omicron and definitively slowed down by the peak of inflation. Thus, the consumption of families remains about 8 points below the level prior to COVID, which leaves room for it to be one of the main growth acceleratorsalthough both in the second quarter of this year and in the summer it could continue to be held back by the rise in prices.

The translation is cruel and simple: “We are poorer than before the war”, according to the Governor of the Bank of Spain, Pablo Hernández de Cos, in the Economy Commission of the Congress of Deputies. And the threat to families It is no longer just the rise in the electricity or gasoline billwhich the Government has tried to mitigate (with very limited success) with the reduction of VAT on electricity, the cap on gas or the discount of 20 cents on fuel, and this Saturday added direct aid, like the check for 200 euros. The great threat is that, in the last month, the core CPI, whose calculation excludes precisely energy and unprocessed food that have caused the inflation crisis due to the disturbance of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, accelerated last month to 4.9%.

Which means that practically everything is more expensive. Much more expensive than in 2021. Without household income being included in the increases (neither wages nor other income have increased at the rate of inflation).

Household spending on food, drugstore and cleaning products is different depending on where they shop. If they physically go to supermarkets, the annual expenditure of the Spanish is greater than 3,368 euros; and if they only make the purchase online, it stands at 3,674 euros, according to the study published this Tuesday by Asedas, the association in which chains such as Mercadona, Dia or Lidl are.

This analysis, carried out by professors from the Complutense and Autonomous Universities of Madrid, ensures that those who spend the most are those who make a mix of purchases between online and physical 'super', and allocate more than 5,974 euros to food and drugstore year. They are also larger households, measuring 3.4 people; compared to three people per household in the cases of those who only go to the store or only buy online. This last purchase is also more spaced in time, with a total of 33 times a year, while going to the store, on average, 55 times.

In this analysis, it is also reflected that those who go exclusively to the supermarket have, on average, a lower declared income for each person in the household, which is close to 9,925 euros. On the other hand, in the case of those who only buy online, this is above 12,352 euros.

The expense in the purchase is also very different. According to this analysis, those who go to the supermarket spend 61.21 euros on each basket; while if you opt for the 'super' on the network, the bill goes, on average, above 111 euros. The latter, according to the report, are basically urban buyers and continue to be a minority, because less than 6% of the population buys online. Of course, it is a percentage that has been growing in recent years, because in 2019 pre-pandemic it was 2.1%. On the other hand, 61% of the citizens analyzed always go to the supermarket, when in 2019 it was more than 77%.

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