Consumer card spending grew 11.1 per cent in June compared to the same period in 2019, as the warmer weather, easing of restrictions and major sporting events saw more Brits socialise and set off on staycations.
Data from Barclaycard, which sees nearly half of the nation’s credit and debit card transactions, reveals that spending on essential items grew 14.7 per cent – the sharpest rise since before the start of the pandemic in March 2020..
Spending at bars and pubs rose 38.1 per cent – the first growth since September 2020 – as the nation flocked to pubs and beer gardens to enjoy the heatwave in early June and watch key sporting events on the big screens. This trend looks likely to continue, as over two fifths (41 per cent) of Brits say fixtures taking place over the next few weeks, including the Tokyo Olympics, will increase their spending as they socialise with friends and family and enjoy a summer of sporting entertainment.
As more gatherings took place in June, ordering takeaways and fast food remained in high demand, recording a 146.0 per cent surge in online spend, including food delivery apps and services.
Restaurants also showed early signs of recovery, experiencing a relatively low fall in growth (-8.4 per cent) when compared to the 74.4 per cent and 53.2 per cent declines recorded in April and May. This trend looks set to continue over the summer as restrictions ease, with consumer confidence data finding that 22 per cent of Brits upped their spending on meals and drinks out on sunnier days.
There were also glimmers of hope for the UK travel industry; the hotels, resorts and accommodation category saw its first growth (5.4 per cent) since pre-pandemic times, as Brits continued to holiday in the UK. However, many remain cautious about overseas travel, with the traffic light system restrictions continuing to impact travel agents and airlines, which saw respective decreases of 75.3 per cent and 70.9 per cent..
Entertainment, which includes cinemas, bowling alleys and golf courses, also showed signs of recovery as Brits enjoyed outdoor activities and more leisure venues opened, with just a 1.7 per cent decline – a noticeable improvement on the 28.6 per cent drop last month. The data shows that consumers aged 65 and over have been driving this improvement, with their spending increasing 4.7 per cent compared to 2019 – perhaps a reflection of rising levels confidence among this age group.
Confidence in household finances and the UK economy has also held up at 70 per cent and 36 per cent respectively, as over half (55 per cent) of those feeling optimistic about the economy cite the vaccine roll-out as the main reason for their positive outlook.
Almost two thirds (64 per cent) of Brits feel the prices of everyday items are higher than they used to be, which could be attributed to the recent rise in inflation, or perhaps a shift in the perception of the cost of living as we transition back to normality following months of lockdown and restricted spending.
Raheel Ahmed, Head of Consumer Products, said: “June saw Brits flock back to pubs, bars and beer gardens to watch the football and tennis on the big screens, as the heatwave early in the month encouraged many of us to get out in the sunshine and socialise.
“The start of the Olympics and the expected easing of restrictions later this month should continue to lift spirits and provide more opportunities for get-togethers, whether that’s a weekend break, a meal out or to celebrate sporting victories. It’s great to see Brits making up for lost time over the past year.”