By Daniel Hunter

Consumer spending in the UK continued its positive momentum in August, according to Barclaycard’s monthly analysis of UK spending.

Barclaycard, which processes nearly half of all credit and debit card transactions in the UK, said that spending grew 4.4% year-on-year in August, the fourth month in a row that has seen spend growth above 4% and the fifth straight month for positive real spend growth.

The leisure and entertainment sector was particularly strong as families across the country took advantage of one of the best summers in recent times. Restaurant spend grew 13.3% compared to August 2012, cinema and theatre spend grew 8.1% and hotel spend was up 6.7%.

Spending fell on clothing (-0.6%) and groceries (-0.1%), as did electronics (-1.4%) and department store (-0.8%) purchases, as households shifted their spending to holidaying and treating the family.

Airline spend growth also slowed dramatically, increasing by just 2.3% year on year compared to double figure growth in February, April, May and July, suggesting that the good weather saw families resisting the urge to book holidays to the sun.

August’s strong performance reinforces the view that households are continuing to shake off the economic downturn last month, a sentiment echoed by recently-published economic data charting a rise in UK consumer confidence.

“Rising consumer confidence pushed spending growth above 4% in August for the fourth straight month as households continued to shake off the economic downturn. It’s a trend we’ve seen for most of this year and has helped establish 2013 as the year of recovery,” Val Soranno Keating, Chief Executive of Barclaycard said.

“The weather has undoubtedly helped. It was confirmed last week that we’ve enjoyed one of the warmest summers on record and the consumer response has been to hit the high street, with in-store spend growing in August by a robust 3.3% versus last year — the 2nd highest level this year. Spending on eating out, holidaying in the UK, and doing up the house grew particularly strongly in August.

“When set alongside the other economic news we’ve seen recently, and with forecasters predicting an above average September weather-wise, we expect this month to be another positive one and for UK PLC to end the third quarter on a high.”

Online vs. offline spend

Online spending growth improved from July (to 9.9% from 8.5%) but still slowed compared to prior months as the summer weather helped drive up high-street footfall.

Most categories of online spend remained up on 2012 in August, with online furniture stores spend seeing an impressive 36% growth and women’s clothing up 32% on a year-over-year basis. Meanwhile, despite bricks and mortar department stores struggling, online versions saw strong growth of 16% compared to 2012.

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