Brits spend average of £500/year on subscription services


A study of 1,000 consumers found two thirds of UK homes are currently signed up to regular subscription services, with an average of SEVEN contracts per household.

Each month, they spend an average of £46 on entertainment subscriptions, as well as others such as food and meals and grooming services – a total of £552 per year.

But the research, by Barclaycard Payments, found men top the list of super subscribers, forking out an average of £57 each month or £684 a year – 63 per cent more than the £35 a month or £420 a year spent by women.

It comes after spending data from the credit card company revealed that digital and subscription services increased consistently throughout each month in 2020, jumping by 39.4 per cent year-on-year in July to an estimated total value of £323 million.

The study, which also polled 500 retailers, revealed that the rise in popularity has led to 22 per cent of those developing a subscription service or product during lockdown, adding to the 28 per cent who already offered these services beforehand.

Entertainment subscriptions are the most popular, providing a key at-home pastime when outdoor entertainment options have been limited.

Food and meal subscription services – such as wine tasting kits – are the second most adopted, while health, wellbeing and grooming services are also on-trend.

Says retail expert Mary Portas: “Subscriptions were already a vital tool for UK retailers prior to the pandemic, helping businesses to remain nimble and transport their product or experience direct to their customers’ homes.

“Due to the prolonged period of lockdown, the public has grown accustomed to the range of products on offer, as well as the ease at which they can be regularly surprised and delighted by the brands they care about.

“Now, with many pivoting towards the subscription economy, we have further proof retailers are willing to try new things to find untapped revenue streams.”

The study also found 82 per cent of retailers believe the popularity of subscription services increased during lockdown as Brits took advantage of safe and convenient ways to receive everything from essential items, such as groceries, through to entertainment into their home.

During April, a core lockdown month, spend on digital content and subscription services increased by 50.2 per cent year-on-year, showing Brits relied on this model during the extended time spent at home.

Seeking to maximise this growing revenue stream, 10 per cent of retailers launched their very first subscription service between March and June 2020.

Almost nine in 10 (87 per cent) think subscription services allow their business to keep up with competitors as other brands launch similar products, and 82 per cent agree subscription services allow them to build customer relationships through increased contact.

Adds Kirsty Morris, managing director for account development, Barclaycard Payments:

“While lockdown certainly provided a catalyst for the growth in subscriptions, our data shows the popularity of direct-to-door and at-home products and services is only set to continue.”

“Over the past few months, we’ve been helping our customers take advantage of the subscription economy by ensuring they are set up to maximise sales.”

Top 10 subscription services

1 Entertainment
2 Food/meals
3 Technology
4 Beauty/grooming
5 Health
6 Fitness
7 Books/literature
8 Alcoholic drinks
9 Arts and crafts
10 Snacks and treats

Chris Price
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