Sometimes it is good to have hard facts and figures to back up what we all think is happening. I have been reading the Barclays Bank Local Insights report for Ashford to see what we are doing with our money.
First, how much do we have? The average annual earnings in Ashford are £31,649, and nearly a third of people here earn more than the national average salary. As you would expect the biggest category of spending is on groceries, with entertainment and fuel coming close behind.
In terms of the growth of spending, you can forget all the ideas of profligate young people. The strongest growth, of nearly 10%, comes from the over-65s, with 16-24-year-olds only adding 0.4% to their spending levels last year.
Perhaps the figure which most vividly tells us this is a 2023 survey is the one showing the division between in-store and online retailing. More than half of the clothes that we buy are now bought online, and that applies to household goods and general retailing as well. It is no wonder that high streets are having to change what they offer. The traditional things they sold are just not bought in shops anymore.
Equally the survey shows how much we have moved away from cash since the pandemic. In Ashford in the first quarter of this year the percentage of purchases made using cash was just 6.1%, well below the national figure of 8.1%
As a final cheerful though we certainly deserve a pat on the back for increasing thrift, with a rise of a fifth in the amount saved in Ashford this year, compared with the national increase of 5.9%. This is perhaps because the rate of home ownership in Ashford, at 57%, is above the national average. The percentage of income spent on the mortgage is 17.7 in Ashford, while it is over 20% nationally.