1 in 5 don't save despite savings accounts war

13 August 2008 / by Rachael Stiles
A fifth of consumers do not put aside any savings, despite the price war that has broken out between the banks and building societies which has seen interest rates rise as they battle to build up deposits.

Research from Nationwide has found that compared to April and May, when almost half of consumers thought that saving was 'very important', by July this figure had fallen to just a third.

The current state of the economy has clearly had a detrimental impact on consumers' budgets, which have to contend with rising food costs and the recent dramatic hike in energy prices, pushing savings accounts further down the priority list.

While 46 per cent of people were still regularly saving in July, 62 per cent are saving less than they think they need to, but they also remain optimistic that in six month's time they will be able to save as much as they need to.

Almost a third of those asked said that they think now is a good time to save, while 41 per cent thought that it was not, illustrating the uncertainty which people feel about being able to make ends meet.

"Consumers seem to be feeling the effect of the current economic situation," said Lee Raybould, head of savings at Nationwide. "Consumers may find if situations get tougher, they won't have any savings to help them through harder times."

Moneyfacts.co.uk has warned that even for those who do pay into a savings account, much of it could be being eroded by the soaring rate of inflation, which reached 4.4 per cent this week – more than twice the Government's target rate of two per cent.

"Many consumers may not realise what a negative effect this is having on their savings." said Michelle Slade, analyst at Moneyfacts.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the most popular choice at the moment are instant access savings accounts, whereby people do not have to give notice and can get their hands on their cash whenever they need it. The price paid for this, however, is a lower interest rate; the average return for these accounts falls between three and four per cent.

"In real terms, inflation is not only eroding returns on the investment, it is also depreciating the original capital invested." Ms Slade said.

Savings rates have shot up since the credit crisis broke last summer and financial service providers realised the importance of having savings deposits and easing their reliance upon the mortgage market.

To encourage people to save, Abbey has launched its 'inflation beating' Super Monthly Saver, which offers an interest rate of 10 per cent gross per annum.

Reza Attar-Zadeh, director of savings and investments at Abbey, commented: "With inflation continuing to climb savers need to look at all available savings options to ensure they're making the most of their money."

© Fair Investment Company Ltd