The French are hoarding money like never before. Confined since March 17, most households continue to earn income (amputated, of course) thanks in particular to partial unemployment measures. This relative maintenance of purchasing power, coupled with the closing of shops and confinement, mechanically leads to forced savings for households. According to economists from the French Observatory of Economic Conditions (OFCE), during the eight weeks of confinement planned until May 11, the French should accumulate the astronomical amount of 55 billion euros in savings.
Macroeconomic figures that are logically reflected in the household budget, according to exclusive data provided by budget coach Bankin ’. This application, which has 4.2 million users (“the vast majority of whom are French,” says the company), works like a financial advisor linked to a bank account. Using smart algorithms, it categorizes spending, forecasts the account balance until the end of the month, and therefore offers savings solutions to make money. Bankin has thus analyzed – via its aggregation technology “Bridge” – the anonymized data of 450,000 users, from February 18 to April 12 inclusive, obviously respecting legislation on the protection of personal data.
First, it shows that cash receipts have decreased significantly for certain social categories. For households with an income between 900 and 1,700 euros, they fell by 13.7% between March 17 and April 4, compared to a reference period considered normal (here, between February 18 and March 10). A fall almost identical to that observed with the middle classes, whose income is between 1,700 and 2,500 euros (-13.4%). In the end, the slightly easier categories are the best. Users earning between 2,500 and 3,300 euros lost only 5.6% of their income.
Partial unemployment compensation measures – 84% of the net salary paid by the state on behalf of businesses – have therefore largely cushioned the financial shock for households. Despite all this, this results in a loss, since not all companies systematically increased this compensation to offer full wages to employees.
As expected, we see that spending, much more than income, has plummeted. By aggregating the variations observed in eight items of daily living expenses – medical care, online commerce, fuel and toll, public transportation, leisure, delivery and video games -, Bankin ‘and Bridge were able to establish that the amount of expenses decreased by 29% for modest incomes (from 900 to 1,700 euros) and the middle categories (between 1,700 and 2,500 euros). While they are those who suffered the least from a drop in income, the wealthiest (between 2,500 and 3,300 euros) are also those whose expenses decreased the least (-22.4%). “So we are seeing for the moment that the drop in spending seems to compensate for the drop in income,” said Bankin.
Medical care, fuel, leisure and transport mainly affected
To understand the graphs above, know that they represent the evolution of transaction volumes, compared to an index of 100. “They do not represent gross transaction volumes or transaction amounts,” specify Bankin ‘ and Bridge. An example is more telling. In the graph below, as of April 12, it should not be understood that users spent more at Blablacar than at SNCF. On the other hand, it shows that the drop in transaction volume was less marked for Blablacar than the SNCF.
Who says confinement says restriction of means of transport. And it is Air France who is struggling the most. The proof: ADP, the concessionaire of Roissy-CDG and Orly airports, announced last week that its traffic in Paris had dropped in March 2020, by 58.5% compared to March 2019. At Paris-Orly, the decline reached 58.7%. And it is not about to stop, because if the influx of the first half of April were to remain the same until the end of the month, the estimated drop would be respectively… of 98% and 93.8% , the group said in a statement. The SNCF also records a sacred reduction of its frequentation. The last weekend of March, for example, it only ran 17% of its TGV, 9% of Intercités and 12% of TER. Consequently, the neo-bank Revolut calculated that the decrease in the number of transactions reached 51.2% between March 1 and April 8. In the wake of road traffic, carpooling services like Blablacar are also taking a hit.
Although it has visibly resumed in the past few days, road traffic collapsed during the first weeks of containment. The second half of March and the beginning of April saw consumption of gasoline and diesel collapse to a “historically low” level according to Francis Pousse, president of the National Committee of the Professionals of the Automobile (CNPA), in charge of service station operators. The fall, visible on this graph, is between 70 and 90% of consumption compared to normal.
Despite government incentives, the French seem to have deserted medical practices. According to Medicare, in mid-April, consultations with general practitioners dropped by 40%. Among specialists, even 50% of the activity has disappeared. The Doctolib appointment booking platform has thus alerted the fate of certain health professionals who are almost no longer active: dentists have seen the number of their consultations via Doctolib collapse by 95% . A trend confirmed by figures from Bankin ’and Bridge, since it was dental surgeons who saw their clientele melt the most, ahead of doctors and opticians. Conversely, pharmacies are doing the best, the latter having to provide hydro-alcoholic gel to the population, as well as paracetamol for the suffering.
Bars and restaurants saw their turnover drop to 0 euros for many of them. The neo-bank Revolut, which also analyzed the data of a million customers between March 1 and April 8, confirms that bars, restaurants and fast food chains have suffered sharp reductions in the number of transactions. KFC (-54%), Subway (-54%), McDonald’s (-52%) are among the most affected.
The closed museums and concert halls no longer register any visitors. It is leisure activities that have suffered the most from the confinement of the French, as illustrated by data from Bankin ’and his aggregator Bridge. Users have largely put aside their vacation plans, and therefore the expenses that accompany them. Only payments devoted to online betting and games (called “Hobbies” in the graph), “entertainment” (Itunes, Google Play, Amazon Media or Playstation) as well as the pet market are able to limit breakages, in comparison with the disaster areas.