Credit crunch encouraging Brits to boost savings accounts

01 April 2009 / by Rachael Stiles
Brits have saved more in the winter months than throughout 2008, according to NS&I, showing that as the credit crunch has turned into a recession, people have been eager to put more money aside in savings accounts for a rainy day.

National Savings & Investments found that during the winter months up to February 2009, regular savers put aside an average £201.55 a month, compared to the monthly average for 2008 of £193.34.

Not only is this higher than at any other time last year, it is also more than any other monthly average since NS&I's Savings Survey began nearly five years ago.

The average Brit, including those who do not save regularly, put aside £86.35 each month in 2008.

The survey of 12,000 people throughout the year also revealed that the number of Brits who deposit money in the savings accounts each month remained consistent at 47 per cent, despite the current economic climate which has taken its toll on savings rates and on consumers having money left over at the end of each month.

"During 2008 and into 2009, the main reason the population was saving was to help them cope in case of an unexpected emergency," explained Dax Harkins, senior savings strategist at NS&I, with 57 per cent doing so for this reason.

"It is clear that people are aware of the need to save more in these uncertain times," Mr Harkins added.

But Nationwide Building Society is less optimistic about the results, and believes it is "too early to say we're a nation of savers," because the divide between those that save and those that do not has increased, which means that people may not be saving as much as they should be.

While Nationwide welcomes the fact that some Brits are saving more to protect themselves from potential financial hardship, it warns that there is still a long way to go before consumers are saving enough.

Nationwide's own research has shown that 60 per cent of consumers admit to not saving as much as they should be, with just 24 per cent saying they think they are putting aside the correct amount. A further 12 per cent said they are saving more than they need to.

Andy McQueen, director of Nationwide savings accounts and mortgages, said that "With a quarter of the population saving nothing at all, there seems to be a divide between those that have saved, continue to save and increase the amount they save and those that have not saved, do not save and have no means to save."

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