Japan Data

Salarymen Tightening Their Belts and Spending Less on Lunch

Society Work

Reduced spending money means Japan’s salaryman are spending less on lunch, cutting back on drinking parties, and using reusable water bottles.

A Shinsei Bank survey looking at salarymen’s spending money revealed that on average in 2019 male company workers had ¥36,747 to use a month, a drop of ¥3,089 from the previous year. This is the second lowest amount to be recorded since the survey began in 1979. (The lowest was ¥34,100 in 1982.)

In 2018, men in their twenties and fifties had average spending money of over ¥40,000; however, in 2019 those in their twenties saw a ¥4,470 drop and those in their fifties had a ¥5,966 drop, so both now have below ¥40,000.

While unmarried salarymen had ¥43,608, a large gap could be seen with married men who had in the range of ¥25,000 to ¥35,000 to spend. Those with children of elementary school age or younger tended to have less spending money, a sign that expenses for raising children and education fees are a burden on the household budget.

When asked about using spending money wisely and saving money (multiple answers), 37.9% of male company workers answered that they make efforts to reduce lunch costs, 29.1% said they have cut down on the number of times they go out drinking, 27.0% carry their own water bottle, and 24.6% take their own packed lunch. All this indicates that they are curtailing their consumption of food and drink.

A survey looking at office workers’ lunch situations, which started in 2009, showed that in 2019 men’s average spending on lunch had fallen by ¥15 to ¥555 and women’s average spending dropped by ¥5 to ¥581.

The largest response by both men and women was that they took their own packed lunch to work, with more than half of the women surveyed answering this way. While 18.4% of men used the company cafeteria, only 8.5% of women did.

The survey on salarymen’s spending money was launched by the consumer-finance firm Lake KK in 1979 and for the last 40 years, it has been conducted annually, just prior to the summer bonus season. From 2008 onwards, the survey has been overseen by the Shinsei Bank Group following its acquisition of Lake KK.

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo © Pixta.)