New data from Barclaycard Payments, which processes almost £1 in every £3 spent in the UK, shines a light on the economic impact of the 12th April changes to social distancing, which included the re-opening of non-essential retail, outdoor hospitality, and hair and beauty businesses.
Just one week since the changes came into force, Barclaycard Payments has already recorded significant growth across all the sectors that were allowed to re-open, stemming from the country’s pent-up demand for returning to pre-pandemic activities.
Last week’s changes caused a stampede of customers rushing back to hairdressing and beauty businesses – the overall amount spent was not only 438 per cent above where it was the previous week, it was also 62 per cent higher than the same week in 2019, before the pandemic.
Spending at pubs and bars also saw a huge spike, surging 1,390 per cent week-on-week. This was even more pronounced over the weekend, with Saturday’s warm weather causing transaction volumes to rise by a whopping 1,897 per cent compared to the Saturday before. However, the sector was still 40 per cent behind where it was in 2019. This is likely because venues are not yet back to full capacity – only outdoor hospitality venues are currently open – as well as a degree of caution from Brits who are not yet fully comfortable socialising in close proximity to others.
It was also a very positive week for clothing – a sector that has struggled over the past year – with transactions values jumping 32 per cent week-on-week, and even rising above pre-pandemic levels, with an 8 per cent increase compared to the same week in 2019. It was a similar story for the retail sector as a whole, with transactions up 67 per cent compared to the previous week, and up 6 per cent compared to the same week in 2019.
Consumers have consistently demonstrated their support for local, independent businesses throughout the pandemic. Last week was no exception – across all sectors, small and medium-sized businesses saw the value of all transactions grow by 42 per cent compared to the previous week, and by 14 per cent compared to the same week in 2019.
Rob Cameron, CEO of Barclaycard Payments, said: “We are now seeing the economy start to gather pace as restrictions continue to ease, and more sectors are allowed to reopen. This is welcome news for all UK businesses, especially for those smaller businesses which have struggled over the past 12 months. As a nation, we have really got behind local independent traders throughout the pandemic – now that the end is in sight, and the economy is starting to turn a corner, it’s vital that shoppers continue to show them support as the road to recovery gets underway.”