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From ducks and dinosaur costumes to accordions and motorhomes: 2020 was a year of unusual spending habits

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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.

People were looking at ways of improving their garden in 2020 (Image: Geograph / Evelyn Simak) 

This was true for Rick and Tia 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.

Amy Polly with her newly purchased motorhome

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, 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.

Luis Donegan-Brown has spent £200 on costumes for social media (Image: Instagram / Luis Donegan-Brown)

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.

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“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.

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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.

(Lead image: Karolina Grabowska / Pexels.com)


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Swansea estate agency scoops silver at leading industry awards ceremony

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Belvoir Swansea has scooped Silver within the Welsh Agency of the Year category at the UK-Wide Negotiator Awards 2021.

The Award Ceremony, which is the pinnacle for UK residential agencies, recognises the innovative agencies that go above and beyond for customers and communities; with this year’s awards focussing on adaptability during COVID-19.

Belvoir Swansea achieved the award following its most successful year to date (2020-21) since launching the business in 2010.

During what was a challenging time for businesses across the country, Belvoir bucked the trend and opted to further invest in the business. In September 2020, it opened its third office in the heart of Sketty, in November 2020, it re-located its Castle Street office to Swansea Marina, and relocated its Mumbles office in July 2021 to a more prominent location at 101b Newton Road.

Ben Davies, Managing Director of Belvoir Swansea, said: “It was an honour to win Silver. We were up against another six excellent agencies from across Wales, so we were really blown away to have won. The past 18 months has been difficult for businesses of all sizes and nature, so to win silver in such challenging times means even more to us.

“We have grown significantly over the past 11 years. We began as a husband-and-wife duo in our Castle Street office, and now employ 18 members of staff across three prime locations in Swansea. In that time, we have expanded our offer from just lettings to sales and have a brilliant portfolio of properties across the whole of Swansea.

“I’ve lived in Swansea my whole life and I am passionate about supporting the causes that mean a lot to our clients and the local community; from supporting local schools and sports clubs, to raising money for Action for Children.

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“We look forward to growing the business further across the coming years and look forward to experiencing the changing face of Swansea, as the redevelopments take shape across the city. It will undoubtedly attract more businesses and residents, which can only be a positive for the region.”

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Business leaders welcome new Kingsway office works

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Business leaders in Swansea have welcomed the imminent start of works on a major new office development on The Kingsway.

Led by Swansea Council, the development set for the former Oceana nightclub site will provide space for 600 jobs.

Bouygues UK are now on board as the council’s main contractor for the scheme, which will include 114,000 square feet of commercial floorspace with flexible co-working and office opportunities for innovative tech, digital and creative sector businesses.

Construction work will start in coming weeks on the five-storey scheme. Due for completion in the summer of 2023, the development will be carbon zero in operation and worth £32.6 million to Swansea’s economy once complete.

Lisa Hartley, Quadrant Shopping Centre Manager, said: “This is yet another exciting regeneration scheme in Swansea to look forward to as our city’s major redevelopment continues.

“With the way city centres throughout the UK are changing, more office developments and accommodation are needed to create the kind of spending our businesses need to succeed and expand. This development will combine with others to help meet that need, while also assisting with the attraction of new businesses and more investment.  

“Also – as we’ve seen with the Copr Bay phase one district – construction itself will benefit city centre businesses too because that’s where construction workers will likely be spending their money on food, drinks, accommodation, shopping and other services.”

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Russell Greenslade, Chief Executive of Swansea Business Improvement District (BID), said: “The start of construction work soon at the new office development is even further encouraging news for Swansea city centre, at a time when so many projects are combining to ensure Swansea is in a strong place to bounce back from the impact of the pandemic.

“This new development will further improve The Kingsway, following-on from the major transformation scheme there that’s already attracting investment from the private sector.

“Footfall is the lifeblood of any business. By providing space for 600 jobs, the new office development will support our city centre by generating more spending in our shops and other businesses, with the flexible, co-working nature of the development catering for how office environments could best function in future.”

The development is part of the Swansea City and Waterfront Digital District project being part-funded by the £1.3 billion Swansea Bay City Deal. It is also supported by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government.

The scheme will feature state-of-the-art digital connectivity, a roof terrace, plenty of greenery, and balconies overlooking the city centre and Swansea Bay.

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Two underground levels will also be included as part of the development. Public access is planned, as well as a new link between The Kingsway and Oxford Street. Temporary surfacing has been deliberately laid in front of the development site, with permanent paving to be installed there once main construction work has finished.

Access to businesses nearby will be maintained throughout the construction works.

(Lead image: Swansea Council)

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Swansea-based recycling business scoops national award

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Family-run business, Gavin Griffiths Recycling came out top at the Growing Business Awards 2021

This is the second award for the Swansea-based business this year, after the firm found success at the Swansea Bay Business Awards, picking up the Business of the Year 2021 award

The business describes itself as one of the region’s leading recycling, waste management, haulage and aggregate suppliers.

In a very competitive category at an awards ceremony to honour and reward the UK’s most entrepreneurial and high growth business, up against 1,400 other businesses in the category, Gavin Griffiths Recycling came out on top at the Growing Business Awards 2021.  

The firm said they were delighted to be announced B2B Business of the Year 2021 at the ceremony held at the Grosvenor Hotel in London. They described this latest award as further testimony to the hard work and determination that has seen the business accelerate its growth plans since its birth in 2005.

During the last 18 months, the group has opened its second site, a 40-acre inert recycling facility in Carmarthenshire, complimenting its existing mixed recycling facility in Swansea whilst delivering one of its largest and most prestigious contracts working on the Llangennech railway crash land remediation.  

The arrival of new staff, additional machinery, plant and 10 new trucks to support the expansion plans have also seen the continued investment into the business.

The company said that whilst keeping its values as a family business, they have continued their community and social values programme, supporting grassroots sports, individuals, schools, and charities across South and West Wales.

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Gavin Griffiths, Group Managing Director commented: “I was very honoured to see us make the final of such a prestigious national award, but when our name was read out as the winner, I was extremely proud of what we have achieved as a team. I would like thank the whole team, as well as every one of our customers, suppliers and stakeholders for supporting us on our journey so far. 

“This recognition is phenomenal, we are so grateful and humbled to have been chosen from so many other amazing throughout the UK. We have some exciting developments on the horizon that will see us pioneer and lead the way in the recycling market. To win two awards in one year, really shows how we have kept our family ethos and worked hard to serve our customers across the whole business.”

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