One in three Bulgarians 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 has forced a lot of people to reconsider planned expenditures or to take on debt just to make ends meet. Bulgarian consumers have also felt the impact of the crisis. The Covid-19 Financial Report commissioned by the EOS Group shows that many of them have even slipped into excessive debt over the last year.
Overview of key findings:
- As a result of Covid-19, the financial situation of Bulgarian consumers is deteriorating. They have actually been the hardest hit when compared with the consumers of other countries covered by the report.
- One in three has been forced to take on debt as a result of the pandemic, while 30 percent of Bulgarians have slipped into excessive debt since the beginning of the crisis.
- The crisis has hit single parents and women particularly hard.
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, 1,000 Bulgarian consumers provided information about how the pandemic has affected their consumption patterns and debt situation.
One in three respondents took on debt that they are unable to pay back.
Bulgarians are borrowing money to cover their living expenses and health costs.
Around one in three Bulgarian consumers (32 percent) has incurred debt as a result of the Covid-19 crisis. At just under 68 and 33 percent respectively, most of them used the money they borrowed to cover their ongoing living expenses and health costs, while one in five used it for housing costs. 28 percent of respondents said they had debts of between BGN 2,001 and 5,000.
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. Rayna Mitkova-Todorova, Managing Director of EOS in Bulgaria
Since the outbreak of the pandemic, 30 percent of those polled have ended up with excessive debt.
Looking to the future, one in three respondents (36 percent) expects to have to take on debt in the next six months. In this context, the younger generation aged between 18 and 29 is particularly pessimistic, with 42 percent of them assuming they will personally get into debt. By way of comparison, this was the case for 29 percent of 50-65 year-olds.
“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 Rayna Mitkova-Todorova, Managing Director of EOS in Bulgaria. For 30 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. The crisis has hit single parents particularly hard, with 43 percent being unable to pay back their debts during the crisis. At 34 percent, female respondents were also overrepresented.
A look at the international comparison in the report reveals that as far as debt is concerned, Bulgarian consumers were particularly hard hit by the crisis. At 32 percent of those polled, Bulgarians accounted for the highest number of people to have incurred debt during the pandemic, with a greater proportion than in Germany (12 percent), Spain (15 percent), Croatia (19 percent) and Romania (28 percent).
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, renovations – and health?
Off on vacation, but not until after the crisis.
The difficult financial situation of many Bulgarians is also reflected in their consumption patterns. Most respondents (65 percent) said that they had gone without a vacation due to the pandemic, while 36 percent had refrained from spending on renovations and 23 percent on items like furniture. Even spending on health (17 percent) and education (11 percent) had to be cut, something that sets off alarm bells for Rayna Mitkova-Todorova: “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.” Only one in ten said that they had not given up anything during the pandemic.
With a view to an eventual end to the crisis, a majority of respondents (60 percent) said they would prioritize spending on the vacation they had planned. They would then spend money on renovations (32 percent) and health costs (24 percent).
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 Bulgarians, consumers from Germany, Croatia, Romania and Spain also took part in the standardized online questionnaire. 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.