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Consumer Spending Grew 2.2% February, “Propped Up” By Digital Subscriptions

Consumer spend grew 2.2% year-on-year in February propped up by takeaways and fast food as people stayed at home to escape the storms and avoid public places amid coronavirus fears, according to the latest Barclaycard Spend Index.

Spending on non-essentials saw slightly stronger growth of 2.4 per cent, yet the retail sector was impacted by three in 10 Brits (29 per cent) spending less because of Storms Ciara and Dennis, with 53 per cent of these consumers delaying a shopping trip as a result. There was an early sign that fears surrounding Coronavirus may have also had an impact, as 28 per cent of UK adults reported that they were avoiding the high street and other busy places.

Department stores continued to face challenges, contracting by 3.6 per cent while clothing expenditure dipped 1.7 per cent. Restaurants also performed poorly, declining by 6.4 per cent, as did airlines and travel agents, which decreased by 0.7 and 0.3 per cent respectively.

Many Brits opted to stay at home with a box set and a takeaway, as digital content and subscriptions enjoyed growth of 12.4 per cent and takeaways & fast food rose 8.7 per cent.

On a brighter note, consumer confidence in the UK economy remains high, with 42 per cent of UK adults feeling positive, up from 32 per cent 12 months ago.

This confidence is driven largely by Brits believing that progress is being made around Brexit, with one in five (21 per cent) putting their optimism down to greater certainty about life outside of the European Union.

However, in a sign of ongoing consumer cautiousness, 36 per cent of UK adults remain careful with their money and more than half (54 per cent) are worried about the rising prices of everyday items and how this will impact their ability to spend.

Esme Harwood, Director at Barclaycard, said: “While storms and floods kept many Brits away from the high street this month, broader consumer spending has held up well as people put their money towards enjoying a takeaway and digital subscriptions”.