Consumption, wealthy families spend five times more than those who are not
The year of the restart of consumption after Covid also marked the return of the scissors of inequalities. If we divide families into five spending groups, it turns out that the families with the lowest spending (first fifth) spend 7.9% of total spending (8.2% in 2020), those of the last fifth 40% (39.5% in 2020). Last year, households with higher spending recorded an overall consumption level equal to 5 times that of first-fifth households, higher than the 4.8 in 2020 and back to the levels of 2019 (it was 5.1 in 2018; 5.2 in 2017; 5.0 in 2016; 4.9 in both 2015 and 2014; 4.8 in 2013). Not only between more and less affluent families, but distances have started to rise again also between territories: the territorial spending gaps rise to 728 euros between the North-West and the South, from 625 euros in 2020.
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Consumption recovering, but spending still under pre-Covid
The data were released by Istat as part of the usual annual survey on consumption, which refers to 2021. A strange year, squeezed between the pandemic that was letting go and the war in Ukraine that had not yet started. Considering that in the meantime inflation has started to gallop and many of the anti-Covid restrictions have blown, an interesting but probably already outdated picture follows.
In 2021, the estimate of the average monthly expenditure of households resident in Italy is 2,437 euros in current values, in marked recovery (+ 4.7%) compared to the pandemic 2020. Considering the inflationary trend (+ 1.9% the change in the consumer price index), growth in real terms is a little less extensive (+ 2.8%), reports Istat. Although accentuated, the progress of 2021 does not compensate for the collapse of 2020: compared to 2019, in fact, the change in current values is still negative (-4.8%).
Since the distribution of consumption is asymmetrical and more concentrated in the medium-low levels, the majority of households spend less than the average value. If we look at the median value (the level of consumer spending that divides the number of families into two equal parts), 50% of households resident in Italy spent a figure not exceeding 2,048 euros in 2021 (1,962 euros in 2020) . The weight of food and non-alcoholic beverages on total expenditure drops to 19.3% from 20.1 in 2020; the average expenditure for hospitality and catering services grew by 25.6% (-22% compared to 2019).
Commenting on Istat data, the National Consumers Union speaks of “a discounted but insufficient rebound. The recovery on 2020 was obvious and expected given that that was the year with the hardest lockdowns and the most rigid and stringent closures, but compared to pre-pandemic values of 2019, household consumption is still very far away, on average 122 euros per month “. If you look at the annual distance, consumption in 2021 “is still less than 1470 euros” compared to 2019 “, a gap that rises to 2019 euros for a couple with two children, it is equal to 936 euros for a couple with 1 child. to couples without children between 35 and 84 years, with a gap of 260 euros per month, -9.1%, 3118 euros per year, an abyss “.
Cuts on holidays and clothing, health rises
Returning to the Istat photograph, it emerges that still in 2021, despite a gradual return to normality, the item of expenditure that families declare to have most limited is that for travel and vacation. The second item of expenditure that has undergone a reduction compared to the previous year is that for clothing and footwear. Finally, among the families that already supported it, 31.2% reduced their spending on fuel (24.5% in 2020). On the contrary, the expenses for medical examinations and investigations periodicals represent the item of expenditure with the highest percentage of families, among those already spending, who declare that they have increased it compared to the previous year: they are 4.4%, from 3.9% in 2020, but in the Center they reach 5.3%.
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