As supermarket shelves across the country remain empty and lines for the checkout get longer amidst the coronavirus crisis, panic buying is showing no signs of slowing down. And since the first panic over low toilet paper stock started earlier this month, people have consistently been pointing fingers at older Australians.
However, recent data from comparison site Mozo has found that over-65s are actually some of the least likely to bulk-buy and hoard goods from supermarkets. According to the survey of Australian shoppers, only 2 per cent of those in the older demographic have panic purchased goods, while 19 per cent have bought a few extras, leaving the large majority or 70 per cent of older Australians to maintain their normal spending habits.
Worryingly, 9 per cent of those over 65 admitted that they would not be able to afford to stockpile extra supplies even if they wanted to. This financially-vulnerable group is not alone in the big picture, with one in five Australians of all ages saying they would find themselves with no savings as a safety net if they were unable to work due to the virus.
The economic impacts of the coronavirus are being felt nationwide as the survey found that 80 per cent of the general public have admitted to being worried about the financial outcome of the pandemic, with half of all Australians already bracing for tough financial conditions.
To prepare for a likely economic downturn, 28 per cent of those over 65 are saving more and spending less due to their lack of confidence in the economy. However, almost 70 per cent of those surveyed in the age group have said they are still engaging in normal spending and saving habits despite economic predictions.
Although the data from the survey was collated prior to the recent travel bans announced by the government, the outlook was still grim for those over 65 looking to travel internationally. More than 60 per cent of over-65s said they would not be planning any overseas travel this year due to the virus while adversely, more than half said they were still intending to catch a domestic flight despite the risks.
Meanwhile, at the time the survey was conducted between 9-15 March, a whopping 18 per cent of Baby Boomers had reportedly lost $1,000 to $3,000 on flights and accommodation.
Mozo Director, Kirsty Lamont assured Australians that being worried is a natural response in light of the current state of the economy but there are still ways to build reserves and avoid going in the red. Lamont suggested everyone review their spending, categorise purchases and eliminate unnecessary or automatic deductions from accounts to help separate the essentials from the needless spending.
“Funnel your savings into the most competitive account — the sharpest savings rate currently on the market is 2 per cent compared to a market average 0.90 per cent,” she said. “Mozo research found that only one in four property owners have refinanced, so now is the perfect time to make the move with savings of up to $100k possible by opting for a competitive online lender compared to the big four banks.
“From the moment you pick up the phone to signing on the dotted line, the average amount of time it takes to refinance is five days, meaning that you could pocket $21,000 a day in savings.”
Additionally, those looking to save have also been told to track spending through apps, withdraw cash rather than using a card, set savings goals and use a direct debit to transfer money to savings as soon as payments such as pension come in.