Electricity switches in April reach almost half a million

26 May 2020   By Dr Lucy Brown, Editor

Figures from Energy UK show households switching electricity supplier in April 2020 down year-on-year.

Almost half a million customers switched their electricity provider last month, 29% less than the same month in 2019.

The trends for switching remain the same, with small and mid-level suppliers gaining more customers than larger suppliers.

Energy switches are unaffected by the coronavirus crisis, and customers on expensive tariffs are still advised to switch to save money.

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Credit: Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock.com

Customers still switching

472,538 customers switched to a new electricity supplier in April 2020, with 35% of switches from larger to small or mid-tier suppliers and only 15% of switches going in the other direction.

28% of customers moved from one large supplier to another while 22% switched between the small and mid-tier providers.

These switching figures for April 2020 contrast sharply with April 2019 when over 660,000 customers changed supplier, a fall of 29% year-on-year.

This follows the figures released for March 2020 which were 4.3% lower than the same month last year.

So far in 2020, there have been over 2 million electricity switches, but this is down 2% on the same time in 2019.

Switching to save

The Covid-19 outbreak seems to have slowed the rate of electricity switches, despite most customers spending more time at home and using more energy.

Along with the stresses of lockdown, this reduction in switching behaviour could be due to the misconception that switching energy providers will interrupt a customer's energy supply.

Our guide to switching from one energy supplier to another covers why this is not the case, plus regulator Ofgem has warned providers to meet all regulations wherever possible during the coronavirus crisis.

This includes meeting the Guaranteed Standards for switching which came into force on 1 May, although Ofgem are taking a pragmatic approach and showing leniency as long as providers are doing their best to meet the regulations.

With many households on expensive default tariffs, comparing cheap energy deals could help save customers money at a critical time.

Energy trends

Energy switches in the UK have settled into a pattern dictated by the default energy price cap, which caps the amount which can be charged for each unit of energy.

The cap is now adjusted in April and October, with corresponding spikes in the number of customers switching around those months as awareness of switching increases.

April 2020 did indeed represent the highest spike in switches since October 2019 as the latest default price cap alteration came into force, yet we've seen that this spike was 29% lower than the same time last year.

In 2019, electricity switches were lowest in May and June, suggesting there may be further falls in switchers ahead as the combination of general trends meets coronavirus.

Alternatively, more people could take the time to compare cheap energy deals as they realise their bills are going up.

It's clear from Energy UK's figures that the trend of customers switching away from larger suppliers is continuing and this behaviour doesn't seem to be affected by Covid-19 outbreak.

Whereas 72,000 customers switching from small or mid-tier providers to larger ones in April 2020, almost 166,000 made the opposite journey from large to small or mid-tier.

It suggests energy customers who are motivated to switch are still looking beyond the big names, although the spike of customers switching from large to small or mid-tier providers hasn't again reached the spike of over 316,000, also recorded in April 2019.

How much could you save on your energy bill?

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