Switching still down year-on-year in Feb, but green shoots of spring show hope for March

March 17, 2021

Energy supplier switching remains at a year-on-year decrease this month, adding to the post-Christmas low in January. ElectraLink’s Energy Market Data Hub (EMDH) reports that February 2021 recorded 459,000 changes of supplier (CoS) completed – over 10 percent less than February 2020. This is the lowest number of switches in a single month since May last year but switching typically picks up speed in spring as customers try to avoid being moved onto costly default tariffs.

Chart showing GB switches or change of supplier CoS

The news is slightly more promising for CoS started,  with February recording 616,000 – just under three percent less than February last year. However, this is still seven percent higher than February 2019 which preceded a record peak of switches that spring. February last year saw fewer CoS started than January, but this year February recorded more CoS started than January – another positive sign.

Chart showing GB switches raised or change of supplier CoS

ElectraLink analysts have pointed out that switching activity appears to have flatlined over the past two years due to several months of notable highs and lows and the interruption of the pandemic. The six-month rolling average for CoS completed has declined to levels similar to early 2019, and the same average for CoS started is at mid-2019 levels.

In terms of switching types, CoS between large suppliers hit their highest level since March last year and is the only type that increased compared to February 2020. All other switch types decreased compared to a year ago. Switches from large suppliers to others (small and medium) are the lowest they have been since mid-2019.

  • Large to Large switches reached 253,000 – four percent more than February 2020 and 55 percent of February 2021’s total switches completed,
  • Large to Other switches reached 91,000 – 26 percent less than February 2020 and 20 percent of February 2021’s total switches completed,
  • Other to Large switches landed at 70,000 – 22 percent less than February 2020 and 15 percent of February 2021’s total switches completed,
  • And Other to Other switches hit 44,000 – 19 percent less than February 2020 and 10 percent of February 2021’s total switches completed.

 

Chart showing switching by type in GB

With Ofgem’s recent announcement of an increase to the standard variable tariff price cap, we expect to see rising CoS activity in the coming months as customers change supplier to avoid being moved onto expensive default tariffs. We expect more switches to show in March and April.

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. We also exclude switches between distinct Supplier brands owned by the same company (e.g. SSE/Ovo and E.On/npower).

As of 1 November 2020, we updated our Supplier Types to reflect Ofgem’s new designations: Large (a supplier with a market share of five percent or more), Medium (market share of between one and five percent) and small (market share of less than one percent). This means we have revised our previous approach and no longer refer to the Big Six, instead opting for labels Large and Other (Small and Medium).

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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