Despite the backdrop of inflation concerns and rising household bills, overall consumer card spending grew by 14.2 per cent in October, compared to the same period in 2019. While growth slowed in some non-essential categories, such as clothing and hospitality, it was a particularly good month for entertainment, digital subscriptions, and travel.
Data from Barclaycard, which sees nearly half of the nation’s credit and debit card transactions, reveals that spending on essential items increased 13.2 per cent – slightly less than September’s uplift of 14.4 per cent, as fuel spend returned to modest growth (5.5 per cent) after last month’s 11.1 per cent surge.
Spending on non-essential items rose 14.6 per cent, including a 127.1 per cent jump in online takeaway spend, as the colder weather led more Brits to order fast food via delivery apps.
There was also encouraging news for the travel sector – spending on international trips recorded its strongest performance since before the pandemic began, as restrictions continued to lift. Travel agents and airlines saw much smaller contractions of -26.9 per cent and -28.1 per cent compared to last month, when the categories declined by -45.4 per cent and -49.5 per cent respectively. Public transport also had its smallest drop (-20.0 per cent) since February 2020, as more workers returned to commuting by tube, train and bus.
Bars, pubs & clubs (+37.1 per cent) saw a rise this month than in September (+43.5 per cent), and restaurant spending had a larger decline (-8.3 per cent) than last month (-2.1 per cent).
Ongoing supply chain shortages continue to weigh on Brits’ minds, with over a third (34 per cent) being so concerned about shortages in stores that they are changing their approach to Christmas shopping this year.
Jose Carvalho, Head of Consumer Products, said: “The expensive festive period on the horizon, combined with ongoing concerns around the impact of inflation and supply chain shortages, has meant we’ve seen steady yet cautious spending from consumers in October.
“While the uncertainty around rising household bills appears to be weighing on Brits’ minds, the encouraging growth we’ve seen in entertainment and international travel shows that consumers are still keen to enjoy leisure activities and holidays. As the nation continues its Christmas shopping and gears up for Black Friday and other sales, we’re confident that November should bring some welcome cheer to retailers.”