Consumer spending grew by a modest 1.6 per cent year-on-year in September with strong growth in entertainment and experiences propping up subdued retail sales. Brits continued to prioritise experiences, including a 4.5 per cent increase in spending at restaurants, while takeaways were up 8.2 per cent, and bars, pubs and clubs saw growth of 12.9 per cent.
Data from Barclaycard, which sees nearly half of the nation’s credit and debit card transactions, shows that essential spending grew just 1.1 per cent overall, with supermarket expenditure up 1.6 per cent and fuel expenditure showing no growth at all at 0.0 per cent.
Meanwhile, non-essential spending rose by 1.8 per cent year-on-year, as Brits continued to prioritise experiences..
Entertainment, which includes cinema, sports and theatre tickets, grew by 4.7 per cent. Similarly, spending on digital content and subscriptions grew by 9.8 per cent, demonstrating the rising popularity of online services and streaming subscriptions.
Overall consumer confidence remained low in September, with just 29 per cent of UK adults feeling positive about the state of the UK economy. Two in five (41 per cent) feel actively pessimistic about their ability to spend money on discretionary items – five per cent more than in August. Moreover, half of Brits (51 per cent) say they are worried about the rising cost of everyday items impacting their buying power.
The trend towards stockpiling continues with 18 per cent of consumers buying essential items in case of future shortages – up one per cent from August. Topping the list of products being stockpiled are tinned goods (52 per cent), dried produce (45 per cent), household supplies such as toilet roll and cleaning products (40 per cent), and teabags and coffee (37 per cent). Additionally, one in eight Brits (12 per cent) has already started buying food and drink for Christmas in case of shortages between now and the start of the festive season.
Esme Harwood, Director at Barclaycard, said: “September’s figures demonstrate the continuing trend of spending on experiences rather than products, with Brits preferring to attend events, eat out or go to the pub with friends. We’re also seeing the impact of the subscription economy, with strong growth in digital services such as Netflix, Spotify and Amazon Prime.
“However, confidence remains low with consumers uncertain about the economic outlook. In the run up to Brexit, the stockpiling trend shows no sign of going away with cautious shoppers already looking ahead to Christmas and buying festive food and drink in case unexpected shortages hit the shelves in the months ahead.”