Consumer spending up 3.9 percent as shoppers rebalance budgets following bumper summer

  • Consumer spending grew 3.9 per cent year-on-year in September, returning to a more modest level after an unusually strong summer
  • High prices at the petrol pump meant essential spending remained robust at 4.6 per cent growth
  • Entertainment recorded its strongest rise since June 2017 – powered by increases in ticket sales, pubs and restaurants
  • Looking ahead, nearly half of consumers say they are planning to spend less on Christmas than they did last year

Consumer spending rose 3.9 per cent year-on-year in September, returning to a more modest level after an unusually strong summer.

Data from Barclaycard, which sees nearly half of the nation’s credit and debit card transactions, shows that essential spending remained relatively robust at 4.6 per cent growth, albeit at a more subdued rate than the high levels seen in July (8.7 per cent) and August (6.9 per cent).

Petrol expenditure was a driving force of September’s essential spending, rising 8.9 per cent as fuel prices remained high. Supermarkets increased 2.7 per cent, a fairly shy figure compared to July (6.7 per cent) and August (5.0 per cent). Non-essential expenditure meanwhile stayed steady at 3.4 per cent growth.

At 11.6 per cent, entertainment recorded its strongest growth since June 2017 with many making the most of the final days of summer, powered by increases in ticket sales (7.1 per cent), pubs (11.5 per cent) and restaurants (9.5 per cent).

Furniture stores performed particularly well at 6.2 per cent, their best showing this year. Clothing, on the other hand, just reached positive figures at 0.7 per cent growth, with women’s clothing seeing a decline of 3.5 per cent – suggesting the last of the warm summer weather meant consumers held off purchasing their winter staples.

After an expensive summer, many shoppers are looking to rebalance their budgets and cut back as the final stretch of the year is at the forefront of their minds. In fact, nearly half of consumers (46 per cent) say they are planning to spend less on Christmas this year than they did in 2017.

More broadly, wider concerns about the country’s economic landscape are weighing on the minds of many, with 62 per cent of UK adults lacking confidence in the UK economy. Rising fuel prices alongside the affordability of non-essential items are contributing factors, with 61 per cent worried about a potential rise in petrol prices and nearly one in two (45 per cent) not confident in their ability to spend on discretionary or ‘nice to have’ items in the run up to the festive period.

Esme Harwood, Director at Barclaycard, said:

“We’ve seen spending return to a more modest level as consumers balance their budgets after a longer than usual summer of spend. Rising prices are having an impact on shoppers’ spending priorities, with more of their household budget devoted to everyday essentials such as petrol.

“Looking ahead, a more cautious approach looks set to continue into the Christmas period as consumers remain conscious of the wider economic trends. With this in mind, it’s clear that shoppers will seek out value for money purchases – whether that’s everyday essentials or those discretionary or ‘nice to have’ items.”

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