British consumers cut their spending by the most in more than five years in early 2018 as heavy snowfalls combined with an ongoing squeeze on household budgets to hit retailers, payments company Visa said this week.
Visa said inflation-adjusted consumer spending in the three month to the end of March was 1.4 percent lower than a year earlier – the biggest fall since the fourth quarter of 2012 – after a 1.3 percent fall in the fourth quarter of 2017.
Spending in March alone fell by the most since October, down 2.1 percent on the year after a 1.0 percent fall in February.
Visa said the weakness in consumer spending reflected a dip in confidence among many households as well as unusually snowy weather.
Mark Antipof, Chief Commercial Officer at Visa, commented:
“The negative impact that the ‘Beast from the East’ had on UK economic activity last month has been widely reported, but this doesn’t entirely explain March’s lacklustre consumer spending. We are in the midst of a dip in consumer confidence and this – coupled with other economic factors – is causing shoppers to continue to restrain themselves.
“High street sales suffered once again, however it is also noteworthy that e-commerce spend fell for the first time in 10 months, and by its fastest rate since 2012. That said, it is too early to read a great deal into this year-on-year decline, which should be viewed in the context of high growth rates in early 2017.”