Wednesday 11 August 2021 6:00 am

Exclusive: 1.8m UK adults have become day traders during the pandemic

Nearly 1.8m adults in the UK have become day traders during the pandemic, pouring into stocks and digital currencies from the comfort of their own homes with varying success, according to new research.

Of those that have dipped their toes in the risky business of day trading during the pandemic, 50 per cent said they’d made money and 9 per cent claimed they’d made “a lot” of money, in a new survey by research company Consumer Intelligence for GraniteShares.

Echoing what professional traders would suspect, 22 per cent of the amateur day traders surveyed said they’d lost money from their activities and 23 per cent said they’d broken even.

As millions of people were placed on furlough or simply had more time on their hands during the UK’s three Covid lockdowns, more than a fifth of UK adults traded some shares in the period.

As the GameStop saga, “meme” stocks and new retail investing platforms propelled stock buying into everyday conversation, half of those who said they’d traded shares during the pandemic said they did so for the first time.

The majority (60 per cent) were motivated to begin investing in order to earn better returns than on their cash accounts, and almost a fifth did so to save for a deposit on a house.

But a similar number said they had chosen to trade shares because they were “bored” or “to make money fast.”

“When or if things return to normal, then the number of traders may fall back” said Will Rhind, CEO at GraniteShares.

But a separate study by Barclays suggested that many retail investors were not simply focused on turbulent day trading, but wanted to continue investing after the pandemic as part of a long-term plan.

Their recent poll of over 2,000 UK investors -which coincided with “Freedom Day” – revealed that three quarters (76 per cent) of respondents were planning to continue their lockdown investing habits.

What’s more, the average UK investor plans to invest 19 per cent more each month post-lockdown, rising to 36 per cent for younger, Gen-Z investors, according to their research.

“The prediction that many will continue or increase the amount they invest going forward is likely driven by a rise in lockdown savings, with the ONS reporting that UK household savings are nearing an all-time high,” said Clare Francis, Director of Barclays Smart Investor.

And Francis had some advice for those who fall outside of the day trading category:

“If you’ve been lucky enough to boost your savings under lockdown, it’s worth considering whether investing is right for you.

“Over the longer term, stock markets tend to perform better than cash and, while you won’t lose money by leaving everything in a savings account, with interest rates where they are, your spending power could fall because of the impact of rising inflation.”