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Consumer Spending Falls But Hospitality Sector Spending Remains Strong

Consumer spending over the past two months has seen the biggest spending fall for the start of a year since the opening two months of 2012, as consumers continue to tighten their belts.

According to the latest Visa UK Consumer Spending Index, households’ spending showed a 1.1 per cent year-on-year fall in February, following a 1.2 per cent decline in January. This is the 10th month in a row, face-to-face spending on the high street fell annually, with a 2.5 per cent decrease.

However, Hotels, restaurants and bars provided a silver lining in the figures, with spending increasing by 4.4 per cent year-on-year.

Recreation and culture spending also dropped 6.1 per cent year-on-year in February – the biggest fall since April 2010 – while spending fell on clothing and footwear, household goods, transport and communication.

Visa’s index uses spending on Visa cards as a base and then adjusts the figures to reflect all consumer spending, not just that on cards.

“Britons have been in belt-tightening mode since last summer,” Visa chief commercial officer Mark Antipof said.

“February’s cold snap certainly didn’t alleviate this situation, particularly when we shine a spotlight on high street spending, and recreation and culture in particular, which saw its biggest decline since April 2010.

“On the other hand, hotels, restaurants and bars experienced another strong month. The resilience of this sector is somewhat unique, having reported uninterrupted growth since February 2011.”

He added: “As we look ahead into March, consumer spending is at risk of posting one of the worst quarter one results on record.

“Retailers will no doubt be hoping that the milder weather will put a spring in shoppers’ steps.”

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