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Sunshine and sporting events boost June consumer spending but “pent-up demand” eases

Tom Bottomley
13 July 2021

Consumer spending in June grew 11.1% compared to the same period in pre-pandemic 2019, as sunshine and sporting events, coupled with easing of restrictions, encouraged socialising and staycations, according to the latest data from Barclaycard.

Face-to-face retail also saw positive growth in June of 9.7%, with uplifts across a range of categories including home improvements and DIY stores and sports and outdoor retailers, with increases of 21.6% and 14.2% respectively.

However, there were signs that pent-up demand following lockdown is easing off, as clothing and furniture stores recorded smaller increases, rising by 2.8% and 26.3% in June, compared to 8.5% and 55.7% in May 2021.

Spending on fuel, hotels, resorts and accommodation all grew for the first time since the pandemic began as holidaymakers booked and embarked on UK breaks, and as the nation enjoyed key sporting events, such as Euro 2020 (put back a year due to the pandemic), spending at pubs and bars rose 38.1% - the biggest increase since September 2020.

That trend looks likely to continue, as over two fifths (41%) of Brits say fixtures taking place over the next few weeks, including the Tokyo Olympics, will increase their spending as they socialise with friends and family and enjoy a summer of sporting entertainment.

The data from Barclaycard, which sees nearly half of the nation’s credit and debit card transactions, also reveals that spending on essential items grew 14.7% in June – the sharpest rise since before the start of the pandemic in March 2020. That was driven by strong uplifts in supermarket shopping (19%) and spending at specialist food and drink stores (76.4%) – including butchers, bakeries, and off-licenses – as the nation kicked off the summer with barbecues and picnics.

Almost two thirds (64%) of Brits feel the prices of everyday items are higher than they used to be – perhaps due to the recent rise in inflation or a shift in the perception of the cost of living as we transition back to some normality after months of restrictions.

Confidence in household finances and the UK economy has also held up at 70% and 36% respectively, as over half (55%) of those feeling optimistic about the economy cite the vaccine roll-out as the main reason for their positive outlook.

Raheel Ahmed, Head of Consumer Products at Barclaycard, said: “June saw Brits flock back to pubs, bars and beer gardens to watch the football and tennis on the big screens, as the heatwave early in the month encouraged many of us to get out in the sunshine and socialise.

“The start of the Olympics and the expected easing of restrictions later this month should continue to lift spirits and provide more opportunities for get-togethers, whether that’s a weekend break, a meal out or to celebrate sporting victories. It’s great to see Brits making up for lost time over the past year.”

The Barclaycard report combines hundreds of millions of customer transactions with consumer research to provide an in-depth view of UK spending.

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