Brina Curum
3 Min Read

As students across the country have been experiencing a rather different start to university life this year, with many being told to isolate and thousands receiving positive covid-19 diagnosis’ – we have to consider the effect this is having on the economy as well. We decided to see just how much money the economy is losing from one of its biggest contributors: Students, as they remain indoors and don’t venture into the student cities that normally profit from their cash injection.

Collectively, student spending habits contribute billions to the economy. To understand just how much cash students inject into the economy each year, Fresh Student Living took a deep dive into 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

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.


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


(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.


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