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Consumer spending grows 3.1 per cent in March as Brits are encouraged by the warmer weather

08 Apr 2019 19:01

  • Non-essential expenditure grew 3.4 per cent year-on-year, however these figures are compared with March 2018 when the ‘Beast from the East’ significantly impacted spending
  • Essential expenditure saw a modest rise of 2.2 per cent, with supermarket spending contracting 0.5 per cent
  • Amidst ongoing political and economic uncertainty, confidence in the UK economy has fallen to its lowest level since 2014
  • Three in ten (31 per cent) consumers are concerned that the cost of everyday items will increase and 17 per cent are worried about medicine shortages

Consumer spending increased by 3.1 per cent year-on-year in March, with growth picking up as Brits were encouraged by the milder weather.  

Data from Barclaycard, which sees nearly half of the nation’s credit and debit card transactions, shows that essential expenditure rose modestly by 2.2 per cent, boosted by a 4.1 per cent growth in petrol spend while supermarket sales contracted 0.5 per cent.

Non-essential spending, meanwhile, saw year-on-year growth of 3.4 per cent. Yet, these figures are particularly buoyant because they are compared with March last year, when spending was heavily impacted by severe weather conditions caused by the ‘Beast from the East’.

Pubs and restaurants helped non-essential spending see strong growth this March, recording uplifts of 15.1 per cent and 12.1 per cent respectively, as Brits made the most of the opportunity to relax and dine out.

In line with the milder weather this March, garden centre spend increased 34.2 per cent year-on-year with shoppers buying tools, plants and other items to spruce up their outdoor space. In contrast, there was no respite for clothing retailers, as sales saw their sixth consecutive month of decline, contracting 2.4 per cent. Department store spending also contracted 4.7 per cent as the retail sector continues to face challenges.

Amidst ongoing political and economic uncertainty, confidence in the UK economy has fallen to its lowest level since Barclaycard began tracking this data in 2014, with nearly seven in ten (69 per cent) saying they are not confident in the current environment.

Furthermore, almost half of Brits (46 per cent) are worried that their quality of life will decline due to Brexit. Just over three in ten (31 per cent) are concerned that the rising cost of everyday items will make life harder for them, and 17 per cent are worried about shortages of medicines and other emergency products.

On a brighter note, many Brits remain committed to spending on non-essentials, with 40 per cent saying that they will always spend on certain nice to haves – with social events, quality food and mini-breaks topping the list. One in ten (10 per cent) even admitted they will never part with personal entertainment, such as their Netflix subscription.

Esme Harwood, Director at Barclaycard, said:

“In contrast to the extreme weather conditions experienced last year, a milder March resulted in an uplift in spending, with consumers dining out and making the most of the welcome sunshine.

“Despite this, underlying sentiment is cautious. March was characterised by ongoing uncertainty around Brexit, with consumers concerned about an impact on food prices and supplies. In light of this, consumer confidence in the UK economy is the lowest it’s been since we began recording this data.”

 

Y/Y Spend growth by category

Overall

Clothing

-2.4%

     Family Clothing

-4.0%

     Shoe Shops

1.4%

     Women’s Clothing

1.2%

     Men’s Clothing

-3.6%

Restaurants

12.1%

Auto Parts & Accessories

0.7%

Cinema, Theatre & Dance

-3.8%

Public Houses

15.1%

Department Stores

-4.7%

DIY Stores

10.3%

Travel Agents

-4.4%

Airlines

2.2%

Supermarkets

-0.5%

Petrol

4.1%

Gambling

-11.5%

Vehicle Sales

-0.6%

Hotels

5.2%

Auto Repair Shops

-0.5%

Sports Shops

5.5%

Furniture Stores

5.2%

Telecoms

1.4%

Household Appliances

-4.6%

Jewellers

-2.1%

Sports and Games Establishment

8.8%

Garden Centres

34.2%

Discount Stores

-11.0%

Gift Shops

-11.3%

Floor Covering Stores

4.1%

Tourist Attractions

21.4%

Amusment Parks

36.2%

Aquariums

88.6%

Electronic Stores

1.8%

Cosmetic Stores

3.7%

Optical Goods

8.8%

Overall

3.1%

 

Average Transaction Value

Overall

-5.8%

Clothing

-2.2%

Airlines

-4.8%

Restaurants

-3.3%

Supermarkets

-5.8%

Petrol

-1.0%

 

Number of Transactions

Overall

9.4%

Clothing

-0.2%

Airlines

7.4%

Restaurants

16.0%

Supermarkets

5.6%

Petrol

5.2%

 

For more information please contact Phillipa Russell +44 (0) 207 116 5473 phillipa.russell@barclaycard.co.uk or Rebecca Butler on +44 (0) 207 116 1993 rebecca.butler@barclaycard.co.uk
Notes to editors

The monthly spend data in this release relates to the period 17th February 2019 – 23rd March 2019. It is compared with 17th February 2018 – 23rd March 2018.

The consumer confidence survey used for this release was carried out between 22nd – 25th March   2019 by Longitude Research on behalf of Barclaycard. There were 2,000 respondents, providing a representative sample of UK consumers by age, gender, region and income group.

*Online and In-store splits of Spend insights data are not currently available

About Barclaycard

Barclaycard, part of Barclays Bank PLC, is a leading global payment business that helps consumers, retailers and businesses to make and take payments flexibly, and to access short-term credit and point-of-sale finance. In 2018 we processed nearly £268bn in transactions globally. Barclaycard is a pioneer of new forms of payment and is at the forefront of developing viable contactless and mobile payment schemes for today and cutting-edge forms of payment for the future. We also partner with a wide range of organisations across the globe to offer their customers or members payment options and credit.

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