The Smart Shopper Index 2021

How smart are you with your money when you shop? Have you ever wondered if your nationality makes a difference?

At BravoDeal we wanted to know which countries were the savviest when it comes to their spending. So, we’ve sifted through all the data on spending and saving habits to bring you the 2021 rankings for 25 OECD countries.

Can the French get the best value for their famous food? Do Americans really know a bargain when they see one? And are the Brits as financially astute as they would like to be?

Explore the results below.

Smart Shopper Index

The countries with the smartest shoppers ranked

Use our interactive table to compare the countries’ performance based on each factor.

Smart Shopper Index

The research

The total score of each country in the index was given based on their performance in the following areas:

  • Household Savings
  • Household Debt
  • Purchase consideration
  • Overall spending relative to the cost of living
  • Food spending relative to the cost
See the full methodology
Smart Shopper Index

While household savings is the total income leftover after all spending, household debt is anything owed to creditors - mainly mortgages, loans, and credit cards.

Purchase Consideration is the percentage of respondents who agreed with the statement “I carefully consider every purchase”.

As a measure of how frugal each country’s spending is, we compared how much people in each country spend overall relative to the cost of living and, more specifically, how much they spend on food relative to cost.

Smart Shopper Index

What did we learn?

Out of the 25 countries we studied, France came out on top with the savviest shoppers, leaving Poland trailing far behind at the bottom.
The Germans’ household savings are the highest while the Dutch have the greatest amount of debt.
The South Koreans are the savviest when spending on food, but the Norwegians know how to spend better overall.

The top 10 countries for savvy shoppers

The results are in. Here we present our top 10 countries for savvy shoppers.

1. France flag
421 points
The French are officially the smartest consumers. Even though they have a slightly above average level of debt, they are incredibly wise when it comes to spending money, scoring highest on the considerate purchasing scale.
2. Ireland flag
312 points
Ireland is the runner-up with 312 points, and even though the Irish are not as savvy savers as the French, they do make up for it by spending better relative to the cost of goods, coming near the top of the list for both overall spending and food spending savviness.
3. Germany flag
288 points
The Germans are not far behind at 3rd place overall, and top when it comes to saving. They also rank 2nd for overall spending vs cost, which means, naturally, that they’re more likely to save up or are better at finding those bargains.
4. United States flag
284 points
A very close 4th in the rankings are the United States, only 4 points behind the Germans. Though halfway down the list for purchase considerations, what really makes American consumers smart is their overall spending vs. cost, and their propensity to save up.
5. Norway flag
211 points
Coming 5th overall on the savvy scale, with the highest cost of living and the highest cost of food out of all countries we studied, it’s no wonder Norwegians try to shop smart. They spend the most out of everyone in dollar terms but get the most value out of it, coming top for overall spending relative to the cost of living.
6. Belgium flag
196 points
Though Belgians come third for considering each purchase carefully, they hover around the middle of the board for all the other rankings. And that’s enough to put them at comfortable number 6 overall.
7. Colombia flag
194 points
With the lowest cost of living, lowest cost of food, and food spend of all the countries ranked, Colombians are, unsurprisingly, big savers with relatively low debt, putting them at a respectable 7th on the savvy scale.
8. Austria flag
191 points
The Austrians do well in all the factors that make up the savvy scale, reaching the top 10 for almost all of them. They are, however, not as considerate with their purchase decisions, which brings them to a very decent 8th place.
9. Netherlands flag
177 points
The Dutch came a dizzying 2nd on both the savings and the overall spending scales but dropped to last when it came to household debt, showing they know how to shop but perhaps don’t know when to stop, taking them to 9th place.
10. Russia flag
149 points
In 10th place are the Russians. They have very stable finances, with the lowest level of debt and the 4th highest savings, but even though they have the 2nd lowest cost of living and the 4th lowest food costs, they aren't so savvy when spending on them.

The magnificent 7

To feed our curiosity, we dug a little deeper into the search data for 7 of the group’s biggest markets in the rankings.
The UK, France, Germany, the US, Italy, Spain, and Poland.

The chart below shows an overview of the volume of savings-related searches in each country relative to their score on the smart shopper index.
There is a positive correlation between search behavior and shopper savviness.

Smart Shopper Index
Smart Shopper Index

United States

The biggest economy in the world came in 4th for savviness, with a score of 284.

Only 4 points behind the Germans, the American's overall shopping acuity is propped up by their spending habits – placed 4th for both overall spend and food spend – and their relatively high household savings rate.

This is reflected in the search data too. The top two brands that Americans search for about savings were arts and crafts brand Hobby Lobby and the retail giant Kohl’s, while online food delivery company Doordash ranked 5th as the most searched for when it comes to discounts and savings.

In terms of search volume, after adjusting for population, Americans search for savings over 10 million times a month, ranking 4th out of the 7 countries we studied. With by far the largest population of all our markets, it was surprising how few searches there were in comparison to the Europeans – close to three times less than France and less than half compared to the UK.

Top brands and industries for savings-related Google searches

Which shopping category is the most popular for savvy online searchers in each country?

Smart Shopper Index

What brand gets the most savings-related searches in each country?

Smart Shopper Index

The top brands and shopping categories for savings-related Google searches

*Based on Google search data in each country

Smart Shopper Index

United Kingdom flag

Brits are most eager to find bargains for fashion, which is why both ASOS and JD Sports make the top 5. But it’s the food delivery app Uber Eats that wins the most attention from the UK’s savvy shoppers, showing how well known the brand is for offering valuable promos.

France flag

The French search for savings most with General Lifestyle brands, explaining the strong showing from Amazon in the top 5 brands. Not surprisingly, Fashion brands come a close second, with both Zalando and Shein in the top 5 most searched for.

Germany flag

Germany’s favorite's brand when it comes to savings is Otto, the homegrown e-commerce giant. The most-searched for category is fashion, which explains why both Zalando and Asos are in the top 5 for brands.

United States flag

The brand that triggers the most savings-related searches each month in the US is arts and crafts giant Hobby Lobby, followed by retail chain Kohl’s. Interestingly, kids’ gaming platform Roblox comes in 3rd place in the ranking, making the US the only country with a Gaming category in the top 5, which shows us: Americans love to play.

Spain flag

Savvy Spanish shoppers look to General Lifestyle brands the most when they want a bargain, which is why Amazon and AliExpress are in the top 5. And when they want to save on their lunch, they look to Burger King or Uber Eats.

Italy flag

Savvy Italian shoppers look to General Lifestyle brands the most when they want a bargain, which is why Amazon rules the top 5 in Italy, with eBay bringing up the rear. Fashion is the second most searched category, which explains why Zalando and Shein both appear in the top 5 most searched for brands.

Poland flag

Savvy Polish shoppers look to Fashion brands the most when they want a bargain, which is why both Zalando and Eobuwie appear in the top 5. General Lifestyle is the second most searched category, which explains why AliExpress is so high on the list.


Constructing the index

  1. We selected 25 OECD countries for which spending and saving habits data was available and constructed the ranking based on five metrics: Household savings, household debt, purchase consideration, overall spending relative to the cost of living, food spending relative to cost.
  2. For each metric, we drew our data from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Numbeo, and the US Dept for Agriculture.
  3. To create the index, we converted all metrics to a standard scale so that a score of 0 signified the average. A score of 200 was significantly above average (2 standard deviations above average) and a country with a score of -200 was significantly below average (2 standard deviations below average).
  4. We awarded or deducted points based on how far above or below average each country was for each of these metrics. Adding all the country’s metric points together gave us the final index score.
  5. NB: We ordered the metrics so that a large positive score always indicated the ‘good’ side of the metric, e.g. we consider both high household savings and low household debt to be ‘good’, and so both are indicated by positive scores; and in reverse, both low household savings and high household debt are indicated by negative scores.

Search data analysis

  1. For the search data analysis, we analyzed and tallied all Google searches mentioning terms like “vouchers”, “discounts”, “discount codes”, “coupons”, “promos” and “offers” (and their equivalents in each language) in each country – this step was based on SEO keyword research data.
  2. We adjusted for Google market share and internet user population to get an estimate of the total number of monthly searches related to saving money if each country had an equal (average) number of internet users.
  3. We manually classified the top 80% of all searches by category and brand, giving us a total of almost 9,000 search terms.
  4. You can download the full dataset here.