6.2 million switches in 2020: COVID-19 cuts switching by 2%

January 13, 2021

Switching data from ElectraLink’s Energy Market Data Hub (EMDH) published today shows that changing energy supplier decreased 2.3 percent in 2020 compared to 2019. January to December 2020 recorded 6.2 million changes of supplier (CoS) – the decrease likely due to the impact of the pandemic which resulted in a dramatic dip in customers joining new suppliers during the first UK lockdown.

GB switches reached the 6 million mark after 493,000 switches completed were recorded in December 2020 – eight percent less than November 2020 and 6.4 percent less than December 2019, but higher than December 2018.

December CoS being lower than November is not unusual. The same pattern has emerged in six of the nine years on record, and the eight percent drop is lower than the average decrease between the months across those years.

Chart showing switches completed for energy suppliers in GB in 2020

There was less of a decrease for CoS started in 2020 compared to the year before. 7.55 million switches were raised during the year, only 0.7 percent less than 2019.

December 2020 racked up 520,000 CoS started – 15 percent less than November 2020 and 7.4 percent less than December 2019.

CoS started numbers are always lower in December. We are interested to see next month how the latest national lockdown affects the number of CoS started after the typical Christmas dip.

Chart showing switches raised for energy suppliers in GB in 2020

In terms of CoS types, all four categories are down on the previous month and fluctuated compared to the same month last year.

  • Large to Large switches reached 221,000 – 16 percent less than December 2019 and 45 percent of December 2020’s total switches completed,
  • Large to Other switches reached 142,000 – 15 percent more than December 2019 and 29 percent of December 2020’s total switches completed,
  • Other to Large switches landed at 79,000 – 14 percent less than December 2019 and 16 percent of December 2020’s total switches completed,
  • And Other to Other switches hit 51,000 – 8 percent more than December 2019 and 10 percent of December 2020’s total switches completed.

Chart showing energy supplier customer net gains and losses in GB in 2020

Overview of switching in 2020

The pandemic appears to have had a minimal effect on changing supplier in GB last year. In terms of annual figures, this is the first year since 2014 that switching decreased compared to the year before. The last year-on-year annual decrease followed a period where there was a month that stood as the record number of switches for over five years. The only real impact stemming from pandemic woes was the April/May totals, usually bringing in extensive switching activity.

The same MPAN that completed 16 switches in 2019 is the record holder again with 17 switches under its belt in 2020. Just shy of 600,000 MPANs switched twice or more during the year.

Looking at net gains over the year, the traditional Big Six brands (now known as ‘Large legacy’) lost over 1.3 million customers – the fifth year in a row with over a million in net losses. Since 2012, the traditional Large legacy suppliers have sustained net losses of a combined 10 million customers.

Interestingly, this year also saw the larger challengers (‘Large other’) lose customers through switching, although they gained market share due to acquisitions and Supplier of Last Resort. The big winners this year were small suppliers (with <1% market share) who gained 639,000 customers. 2020 marks the sixth year in a row that they have made the most gains out of any supplier category.

For more information on CoS figures, contact communications@electralink.co.uk. If you would like access to the CoS data we hold and analysis we provide for the energy market, please reach out to sales@electralink.co.uk.

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NOTES:

The above figures relate to electricity CoS in Great Britain only.

We do not include CoS from Supplier of Last Resort (SoLR) processes or trade sales in our monthly CoS reporting. We account for only voluntary switches, or instances where the customer made an active decision and took action to change supplier.

CoS started refers to the number of valid switches started, also known as CoS raised.

All data is provided by ElectraLink’s Energy Market Insights (EMI) from the EMDH.

ElectraLink has been granted the governance protections to hold, transfer and analyse CoS and other data.

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