UK is a nation of ‘Super Subscribers’ – with Britons spending £620 a year on subscriptions

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Research into 2,000 adults found digital and “deliver to door” is now such an integral part of Britons’ daily lives that eight in ten UK households are signed up to at least one subscription service – up 16 percent year-on-year.

Entertainment platforms, such as music and film streaming services, remain the firm favourite (46 percent), with food or meal boxes (16 percent), technology (14 percent) and beauty/grooming services (12 percent) following in popularity.

As a result, the “subscription economy” is now worth an estimated £395m; an increase of 23 percent in the last 12 months alone, according to the research from Barclaycard Payments, which processes nearly half of the nation’s credit and debit card transactions. 

While increasingly profitable for retailers, shoppers are making savings too as nearly half (48 percent) of those signed up to subscriptions claim to save money as a result, averaging £290 per year.

The savings are also felt elsewhere, with 45 percent claiming their subscriptions discourage them from buying products unnecessarily.

Marc Pettican, president of Barclaycard Payments, said: “Whether it’s entertainment, meal boxes, beauty products, or even musical instruments, subscriptions have become a consumer staple in British life.

Whether it’s entertainment, meal boxes, beauty products, or even musical instruments, subscriptions have become a consumer staple in British life

Marc Pettican, President of Barclaycard Payments

“While lockdown certainly provided a catalyst for their growth, our data shows the popularity of digital and direct-to-door sign-up services is here to stay.

“The convenience, personal touch and value for money subscriptions provide means they have longevity, especially as we adjust to life and new routines as result of the pandemic.

“As the subscription economy continues to grow, it will be interesting to see how the range of sign-up products and services retailers offer in this way expands too.”

The study also explored some of the more novel offerings Britons are signing up to, which include deliveries of cheese (eight percent), musical instruments (eight percent) and underwear (seven percent).

Although nearly half (45 percent) relied on the convenience of subscriptions during lockdown, the trend looks to be here to stay, with 40 percent planning to sign up to more services even though restrictions have eased.

Half (50 percent) find subscriptions actually help them to keep their finances organised, and 55 percent value the time saved thanks to regular deliveries.

Four in ten (43 percent) would buy a loved one a subscription service for Christmas or a birthday, with 36 percent already planning to utilise them as part of their gift shopping going forward.

Marc Pettican added: “Despite accelerating during lockdown, the convenience and value for money that subscriptions offer gives them longevity, and we expect to see Britons continuing to increasingly bespoke offerings, such as cheese or gourmet restaurant meal kits, in the future.”


  1. Entertainment platforms
  2. Food/meal boxes
  3. Technology
  4. Beauty or grooming
  5. Books/literature
  6. Flowers/gardening
  7. Health
  8. Pets
  9. Restaurant meal kits
  10. Alcohol

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