Freshers Week Spending 2021 Hit Record High Says UCAS Statistics
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Freshers Week Spending 2021 Hit Record High Says UCAS Survey Statistics

Rachael Grealish March 6, 2022

Freshers week spending hit a record high in the UK in 2021, according to statistics released by UCAS.

On Thursday, March 3, UK’s shared admissions service for higher education released the ‘UCAS Freshers Report 2022’ which revealed for the third consecutive year, students have increased their spending during their first week at university or college.

Students were spending up to £421 a week in 2021 – an increase from £406 in 2020 and £368 in 2019.

But why has spending increased year on year?

Along with inflation, the Head of Customer Growth at UCAS, Rebecca Hopwood, said student spending has ‘endured the pandemic’ and the increase in demand during this time.

She said: “Students’ spending has unmistakably endured the pandemic, with some of the biggest brands in the world at the top of their wish lists. 

“However, the UCAS Freshers Report offers every business the opportunity to listen to what matters most to students as they start to navigate their new lives, with new independence.

“We need to remember that these students started their degrees in the second year of the pandemic, impacting trends with new choices emerging. 

“The overall patterns are clear though, today’s students are resilient, likely to find the positive in change and are ready to spend with the brands they truly value.”

What are students spending money on?

Amazon has established itself as the most popular brand for freshers – up from fourth in 2020, ninth in 2019, and fifteenth in 2018 – because, of course, students need more things, like laptops and other technology to make working at home easier.

But all work and no play makes for miserable students and spending on entertainment becomes a necessity.

Netflix is now right out in front of other entertainment services as most used by students – a massive 83 percent of freshers saying they use the streaming service.

Whilst students are spending more the stats show they are also choosing to make their money go further. 

Although Tesco still remains a freshers top choice for groceries, this has fallen to 58 percent and is now followed closely by ALDI and LIDL, who are in joint second choice with 37 percent choosing them as their most frequented supermarkets. 

With a need to communicate more using technology spending on smartphones and tablets has increased – this has made the potential tech bill for students starting in higher education more than £2,000 (on average, smartphone owners are spending £629, tablet owners £645 and laptop owners £799).

Although they’re not spending massive amounts on their groceries, students do need appliances to make the kitchen magic happen and of course spending on kitchen and homeware has increased.

This has had a ten percent increase from the previous year and Dunelm – one of the UK’s largest home furnishings retailers – rose 142 places to break into the top 100 most popular student brands.

Though during the pandemic students weren’t constantly spending, the survey did show in their spare time freshers actually chatted with friends and family online – this rose by 15 percent and became the most popular pastime, with listening to music a close second.

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Rachael is the Senior Content Editor at Freshered. She is NCTJ qualified with an MA in journalism. Rachael has almost ten years experience as a journalist in regional, national and international press and is passionate about creating engaging content.