We all know that there is a great squeeze on spending at the moment, because of inflation, but it is fascinating to see how Ashford compares with the national picture on this. For the statistics in this column I am indebted to Barclays’ Local Insights publication.
In the first quarter of this year, compared with the same period last year, spending in Ashford increased by 24.1%, slightly below the national average. This is consistent with the average wage in Ashford. At £36, 536, being also a little below the national average.
Groceries make up the biggest single component of the spending, at just under a quarter. The biggest increases in spending came from the over 65s, while the next biggest increase was among the over 50s. More surprisingly, the two income groups showing the biggest spending increase were the richest (over £100,000) and the poorest (under £20,000).
Those concerned about the fate of the High Street should consider that in Ashford 56% of clothes shopping is now done online, and 58% of household goods are bought online.
The big changes are happening not just in how we shop, but how we pay. In the first quarter of 2021, when we were still in lockdown, only 5.8% of purchases were made with cash. This year, when everything was opening up and there was much more personal interaction, the figure only crept up to 6.8%.
As for paying for housing, 57% of Ashford residents own their home, and the average mortgage payment is £845, which is a slightly lower percentage of income than it was a year ago.
The overall picture shows that our local economy is relatively resilient in the face of the current difficulties, but of course faces the same headwinds as the rest of the country.