Amy motor home and new rollerskates

A Snapshot of 2020: Barclays photo series captures a year we spent quite like no other

18 December 2020
  • Brits invest over £9bn* on out of the ordinary purchases as 2020 sees the nation spend both their time and money in unexpected ways 
  • Barclays Lockdown Portrait Series captures people across the country with their slightly unusual lockdown buys – from a racehorse and roller skates to virtual reality specs
  • Dr Peter Brooks, Chief Behavioural Scientist at Barclays, shares money management tips to help people revisit and reset their spending habits as we enter the new year

Friday 18th December 2020: Ducks, a dinosaur costume and an accordion are just some of the things Brits didn’t plan to buy at the start of 2020. But during a year of lockdowns and restrictions, people have spent a collective £9 billion on out of the ordinary purchases.

For a quarter of Brits, 2020 was the year they spent more money on hobbies than ever before, spending a collective £1.6 billion^ after trying something new or picking up an old activity to keep occupied. Investing in the likes of musical instruments, roller skates and arts and crafts, 24 per cent spent money on a hobby since the start of the year. However, despite 38 per cent picking up a musical instrument, the overwhelming majority (88 per cent) do not plan to carry on playing it in 2021.

With people spending more time at home, they were also on the lookout for ways to improve their home or garden. The likes of BBQs, plants and furniture were popular buys for those looking to spruce up their surroundings.

This was true for Rick and Tia from Hackney who spent £295 buying a BBQ smoker for their garden after wanting to get creative with their outdoor cooking skills. “Although we weren’t able to invite people for a BBQ, buying the smoker meant we could practice some new and experimental recipes ready for when we could host again!” said Tia.
Similarly, with more time on their hands some Brits took the plunge and bought something they had been eyeing up for a while. Such as Amy Polly who spent £7,115 on a motorhome when staycations seemed to be on the cards for the rest of the year and she was presented with an opportunity she couldn’t refuse.

“I never would have thought I’d end up with a motorhome by the end of the year! But after saving for the past few years, it felt like the right time to go for it and buy it. I made the investment knowing it is something I will use for a long time. It’s going to be great to get some use of it across the UK,” said Amy.

This was at the same time as over a quarter (27 per cent) of Brits simply ended up buying something completely out of the ordinary. Parrots, hot tubs and metal detectors made their way onto the list of some of the unusual items people brought, with over a third (33 per cent) saying that these unforeseen purchases made them happy.

This can be said for Luis Donegan-Brown, Willesden, who ended up spending £200 on a host of costumes to create funny content for social media, including a fake muscle suit and an elf outfit. “It started as a bit of a joke with my housemates, but it kept going throughout the year and now I’ve got a collection of random costumes! It’s definitely kept me entertained and busy,” he said.

Keeping entertained and busy (27 per cent) were amongst the main motivators for spending on these more unusual items in 2020, and the overwhelming majority say it was money well spent (74 per cent).

Dr Pete Brooks, Chief Behavioural Scientist at Barclays, said
: “It’s fascinating to see the quirky items people have acquired throughout the year. From the small buys such as a cricket set, to the larger, life-changing purchases including animals, we hope these pictures raise a smile whilst providing a glimpse into lockdown life in the UK.

“It’s great to look back on how you’ve spent your money and it’s always helpful to use the end of the year to reflect and set financial goals for the future. This year has been like no other so perhaps it’s a more useful task than ever to reset your financial priorities as we head into 2021.”

Dr Pete shares his top money management tips as we head into 2021:

1. Reassess your savings goals - Now is a great time to think about new savings goals for the year ahead. Setting yourself achievable milestones can really help you get into the habit of putting money away regularly, whilst getting the buzz of knowing you’re hitting your targets and the boost of watching your savings grow. You can use a tool like Barclays Savings Goals which can help you work out how much you need to put away each month to reach your goal and allow you to track your progress.
2. Transfer money into a savings account on payday - This is a really simple and effective way of saving each month. Moving money out of your everyday bank account will increase your chance of saving success - out of sight, out of mind! Why not make it automatic by deciding on a monthly amount you would like to put away and setting up a direct debit to your savings account?
3. Give yourself a financial health check – Now is a great time to sit down and give yourself a financial MOT. Print off your bank statement and do some red-lining, assessing the things you need to keep, the things you can cut and the things you can change. If you want some extra help to shape up your finances, why not try Barclays free Money Workouts which will help you take control of where your money goes every month.
4. Confront your balance –This year in particular, confronting your finances head-on may be uncomfortable and challenging, but having a deep understanding of where your money goes is essential to helping you feel more in control. Many people find it helpful to be able to see all their money in one place; Open Banking enables you to view all your accounts from different providers in the Barclays app, giving you a good overview of your financial situation.
5. Don’t compare yourself and your money journey to others – It can be really easy to compare your spending habits to friends and family but it’s not very helpful - especially considering how this year has impacted everyone differently. Ditch any comparisons and focus on your own situation. Knowing that everyone is on a very different journey can help you gain perspective.

Anyone with concerns about their finances can also visit the Money Worries Hub for practical advice and support.


*Extrapolation based on a UK adult population of 52.4m per latest ONS statistics times the average spend per person £173.
^Extrapolation based on a 24 per cent representative sample of the UK adult population (12.6m) who cited hobbies as the reason they made non-essential purchases during the lockdowns in 2020, times average spend on hobbies per person £130.