Student Spending Habits Amount to Billions - Fresh

The Average Student Contributes Around £4,000 to the Economy Each Year

Student spending power in the UK


Collectively, student spending habits contribute billions to the economy.

To understand just how much cash students inject into the economy each year, we analysed average spend from the Student Living Index around things like eating out, streaming services, alcohol and transport, and calculated totals based on the entire student population in the UK.

Spoiler alert, it’s a lot!  

Excluding costs around accommodation, loans, healthcare or personal expenses, a typical student spends almost £4,000 a year on shopping, nightlife, drinking coffee, transport, hitting the gym and other activities.

With the UK student population more than 2 million strong, the numbers soon add up.

One student donating £48 a year to a good cause may not seem staggering, but collectively, more than 2 million students could send the amount skyrocketing to over £100 million.

student spending habits

Student Spending Power

Supermarket spending ranks top of the list. With young people typically paying around £984 for food, snacks and toiletries at their local each year, students add a massive £2 billion-plus to the UK economy.

Gigs, bars, takeaway and coffee account for another £2 billion, while splurges on clothing, shoes and accessories have the potential to inject another £900 million. This is based on average costs and doesn’t take into account different costs of living in places like London, Glasgow or Liverpool.

Check out the table below to see just how much students can benefit the economy:


What students spend money on each month Annual spend  (individual) Potential contribution to the economy per year
(food & toiletries)
£984 £2,345,826,480
Going out
(Gigs & bars)
£408 £972,659,760
Eating out
(Takeout& coffee)
£408 £972,659,760
(Shoes & accessories)
£396 £944,052,120
(At home & out)
£360 £858,229,200
Public transport
(Trains & busses)
£324 £772,406,280
Household bills
(Internet & electric)
£288 £686,583,360
(Library costs & printing)
£192 £457,722,240
(Data & minutes)
£156 £371,899,320
(Gym & beauty products)
£144 £343,291,680
Home entertainment
(Streaming & movies)
£132 £314,684,040
Good causes
(Charity & donations)
£48 £114,430,560


Almost seven years ago, student spending supported over £80 billion of UK economic output, meaning students have real power to benefit national, regional and local economies. With recent events around COVID-19 and the economic downturn seen across the country, there’s no better time to start thinking about the ways we can bolster local economies.

A few ways you can help

  1. Shop local

Check out local stores while shopping online and support local businesses whenever possible. Instead of visiting huge online retailers, who often stock imported goods, look for online stores that support UK businesses.

  1. Take a rain check

As an alternative to claiming a refund from your local theatre or an event, consider accepting a voucher to use at a later date. The promise of future business could really help!

  1. Buy gift cards and vouchers

Using the same idea as above, why not buy vouchers and gift cards for a mate’s birthday to support businesses who will need the support once they’re up and running again.

  1. Go online

Check which of your favourite services are now online. Loads of businesses are now offering services online, so you can still get your yoga fix or attend a music lesson.

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