Figures from ElectraLink indicate that the lockdown has dampened enthusiasm for switching electricity supplier, with April’s figures the lowest in four years for that month.

Data published by the Energy Market Data Hub (EMDH) shows that switching continues to be negatively impacted, with April 2020 showing both month-on-month and year-on-year decreases in switches started and completed.

In total, 481,000 switches were completed, a 19 per cent decrease on March and 28 percent less than April 2019’s record of 670,000.

ElectraLink added that March 2020’s figures were the second highest on record, raising questions as to how April’s switches were so low.

There were 498,000 switches begun in April, 30 per cent less than March and 26 per cent less than the year previously.

The number of switches started is the lowest since December 2018 (December usually has fewer started due to Christmas) and the lowest for this particular month since 2017. Furthermore, there were fewer switches started last month than in December 2019, the last time this happened was in 2014/15.

In terms of weekly totals, only twice in the last three years have there been as few switches raised in the last two weeks of April, excluding weeks with bank holidays. These occasions were the run-up to Christmas and two weeks in late June/early July 2018 during the 2018 football World Cup.

ElectraLink said it was clear that the coronavirus pandemic had focused consumer mindsets on things other than household utilities.

In terms of switching types, all categories decreased in number month-on-month, with the sharpest decline in switches to challenger suppliers, both within-group or from the largest suppliers. The only change of supplier type to increase compared to the same time last year was challenger to big six:

  • Big six to big six switches hit 128,000 – 16 per cent less than April 2019
  • Big six to challenger switches dived to 162,000 – 48 per cent less than April 2019
  • Challenger to big six switches landed at 74,000 – 17 per cent more than April 2019
  • And challenger to challenger switches reached 117,000 – 17 percent less than April 2019

However, switches to the smallest challenger suppliers, supplying electricity to no more than 250,000 meter points, actually went up in April. ElectraLink says this shows that the larger challenger brands appear to have temporarily seen a lull in interest in their offerings, with former customers potentially moved to big six brands.

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