One in six Spaniards has incurred excessive debt since the outbreak of the pandemic.

Within a very short time, the Covid-19 pandemic has turned our lives upside down. From a financial perspective in particular, the pandemic forced a lot of people to reconsider planned expenditures or to take on debt just to make ends meet. Spanish consumers have also felt the impact. The Covid-19 Financial Report commissioned by the EOS Group shows that in Spain there are people who even slipped into excessive debt over the last year.


Overview of key findings:

The financial situation of Spanish consumers is deteriorating as a consequence of Covid-19. 

  • One in seven has been forced to take on debt as a result of the pandemic,
  • 16 percent of Spaniards have even slipped into excessive debt since the beginning of the crisis.
  • The crisis has hit single parents particularly hard. Many younger Spaniards also said that they got into debt.

Although the pandemic is a global crisis, every nation and population group is affected differently. Within the scope of the Covid-19 Financial Report, which online poll specialist Dynata conducted on behalf of EOS, 2,000 Spanish consumers provided information about how the pandemic has affected their consumption patterns and debt situation.

Covid-19 Financial Report: Consumers had to take on debt during the Covid-19 crisis.

One in seven respondents took on debt that they are unable to pay back.

Spaniards are borrowing money to cover living expenses and housing costs.

Around one in seven Spanish consumers (15 percent) has incurred debt as a result of the Covid-19 crisis. At just under 44 and 23 percent respectively, most of them used the money they borrowed to cover their ongoing living expenses and housing costs, One in seven used the money for health-related expenses. The amount of debt was generally between €501 and €2,500.

Covid-19 Financial Report: Carlos Lorenzo, Managing Director of EOS in Spain
It’s perfectly understandable if people are forced to take on debt temporarily to cover the necessities of life. We are in an exceptional situation and at present, nobody can reliably predict how it will develop. Carlos Lorenzo, Managing Director of EOS in Spain

Single parents and younger people suffering particular hardship amid the crisis

Sole parents have been the group hardest hit by the pandemic, with around one in four (23 percent) taking on debt to survive the crisis financially. From a demographic perspective it is also the younger generations that have borrowed money in the course of the crisis. Just under one in five (18 percent of each group) of 18-29 year-olds and 30-39 year-olds said they had acquired debt. In this context, the youth unemployment rate in Spain of over 40 percent certainly plays a major role (source: Eurostat/Statista 2021). By way of comparison, only 13 percent of the 50-65 year-old age group had incurred debt. 

It is therefore not surprising that it is the youngest consumers (18-29) and single parents that have the most pessimistic view of the future: 30 and 37 percent respectively assume that they will need to take on new debt in the coming months. This puts them above the Spanish average of 24 per cent.

Covid-19 Financial Report: Consumers have ended up with excessive debt during the Covid-19 crisis.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, 16 percent of those polled have ended up with excessive debt.

“It’s perfectly understandable if people are forced to take on debt temporarily to cover the necessities of life. We are in an exceptional situation and at present, nobody can reliably predict how it will develop,” says Carlos Lorenzo, Managing Director of EOS in Spain. For 16 percent of those polled, this has meant that they have slipped into excessive debt since the start of the pandemic and can no longer pay back their debts. Here too, sole parents have been hit hardest, with more than one in four (29 percent) unable to pay back their debts amid the crisis.

A look at the international comparison in the report quickly reveals that as far as debt is concerned, consumers from other countries have been hit even harder: 19 percent of respondents in Croatia, 28 percent in Romania and as many as 32 percent in Bulgaria said that they have incurred debt due to the pandemic. Germans are only in a slightly better position at 12 percent. Looking to the future, 24 percent of Spanish consumers fear that they are going to have to take on debt in the next few months.

What is excessive debt?

Excessive debt refers to a situation where the debt incurred by a person or a company exceeds their own assets. In the case of private individuals this is usually preceded by an unexpected event like the sudden loss of a job or a serious illness. However, poor money management can also often result in excessive debt.

Consumer behaviors: Going without vacations, new furniture – and health?

Off on vacation, but not until after the crisis.

Although a majority of Spaniards have come through the crisis so far without financial hardship, many of them had to limit their spending. The majority of respondents (68 percent) stated that they had decided not to go on vacation during the pandemic. Much smaller numbers of consumers were refraining from spending on items like renovations (37 percent), furniture (28 percent) and consumer electronics (21 percent). Even spending on health (12 percent) and education (11 percent) had to be cut. Among younger consumers up to 29 years old, this affected as many as 17 and 14 percent respectively, which sets off alarm bells for Carlos Lorenzo: “When financial resources are tight it makes sense to cut your spending on things that are not absolutely necessary. However, if your health suffers as a result, this is a matter of concern.” 

At 43 percent, the majority of respondents had spent their money on consumer electronics. With a view to an eventual end to the crisis, the majority of respondents were in agreement: 67 percent of them planned to spend money on a vacation first, and who can blame them?

The Covid-19 Financial Report reveals how consumers are experiencing the crisis

The aim of the Covid-19 Financial Report is to show how consumers in various countries have experienced the pandemic so far. In this context, the focus is on their financial situation and how this has changed in the course of the crisis. What effect did the crisis have on people’s consumption patterns? To what extent and for what reasons did consumers have to take on debt, and were they able to pay it back? To find this out, online polling specialist Dynata surveyed 7,000 people from five European countries about their circumstances on behalf of EOS. As well as Spaniards, consumers from Germany, Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia also took part. The results indicate which population group is affected by the crisis and to what extent, and show the kind of personal payment difficulties that consumers can reckon with in the future.

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