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The impact of Covid-19 on Turkish consumer spending

The impact of Covid-19 on Turkish consumer spending

By Ahmed F. Karslı, CEO Papara

The Covid-19 pandemic completely transformed our behaviours, daily routines and social norms. Inevitably, these changes have been reflected in our spending habits and priorities – both in terms of where and how much we spend.

Consumer spending data from financial SuperApp, Papara, has shone a light on these changing habits, comparing data from Turkish consumers in 2020 with that of 2019. Its data has revealed that while the overall amount of money spent by individuals remained largely unchanged over the two years, there were three main areas that experienced a spike in popularity among the Turkish population during the Covid-19 pandemic: entertainment, gaming, and restaurant (delivery and takeaway) food.

Entertainment platforms

Lockdown rules confined people to their homes for extended periods of time. Due to this, it is perhaps unsurprising that online entertainment platforms saw a spike in user engagement. In fact, year on year, the number of unique users claiming cashback benefits from YouTube spending rose by a huge 371%, followed by a 278% rise in Netflix claims, and 375% of those for Spotify. It is interesting to see that despite having a free offering, YouTube reaped the biggest cashback benefits for users, highlighting the demand for small luxuries like undisrupted entertainment which people were perhaps less inclined to splurge on pre-pandemic, when there were plenty of other forms of entertainment.

Ahmed F. Karslı

Ahmed F. Karslı


Of all forms of entertainment, gaming products experienced a standout rise in popularity among Turkish people, with the number of transactions per Papara user increasing by 402%, and the amount spent per user increasing by 515% when comparing 2019 year end data with that of 2020. This boom in gaming has been witnessed beyond Turkey too, with the number of gamers worldwide said to still be on the rise and expected to exceed three billion by 2023[1].  As the most interactive form of entertainment, people perhaps initially turned to gaming as a way to connect with others whilst social restrictions were in place.

Restaurant food

Most interestingly, although restaurants and cafés were closed for indoor dining for much of last year, spending at these establishments actually increased due to a rise in takeaways and delivery services. In fact, consumers spent 36% more per person in eateries last year than in 2019, and placed 79% more restaurant orders over this period. At a difficult time for many, take-aways and food deliveries were perhaps viewed as a deserved reward during lockdown.

The spending trends we witnessed during the pandemic highlight the importance of these little luxuries, and the small joys people turn to in difficult times, whether this is treating themselves to restaurant-made food, or an ad-free entertainment experience.

As the pandemic eventually subsides, it will be interesting to see which spending habits will remain over the long-term, and how services adapt to these. At Papara, our users are at the heart of what we do and so our services are catered to the evolving needs of our users. These spending changes have reinforced the importance of adapting to trends, and keeping pace with our customers’ demands – whether it’s more cashback opportunities at restaurants, or easier ways to pay for gaming tokens. The team at Papara is always looking out for changes in spending habits, and how to cater to these with the best user experience in order to remain the most loved app in Turkey, and soon beyond.

[1] The global games market report 2020 – Strive Sponsorship, UK

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