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Clothing and fuel spend plunges but electronic sales lift November transaction data

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Clothing and fuel spend was notably down in the month of November, but early festive shopping and electronic sales provided an uplift to the consumer spending figures, according to Barclaycard.

Spending on clothing and in department stores fell to their lowest level since June (18% and 13% respectively), contributing a 4.6% fall in the non-essential category.

But while physical stores experienced another challenging month, ecommerce sale rose, with general retailers and clothing enjoying online rises of 73.8% and 35.6% respectively.

Fuel sales in the month – during England’s second lockdown – were also down 23.8%.

But the figures were lifted with spend on essential items, according to data from Barclaycard, which sees nearly half of all credit and debit card transactions.

This category grew 4.9% year-on-year, with a 17.9% rise in supermarket shopping over the 12-months. Online grocery shopping saw a 97.4% rise as Brits looked to stock up on Christmas supplies.

The figures were further boosted by new console, video games and electronic spending (28.9%) as Brits stayed at home amid the lockdown restrictions.

Longer evenings also saw people keep themselves entertained with digital subscriptions, which rose by 43.1%, reflecting levels not seen since June (up 43.5%), just before the first national lockdown measures gradually lifted.

Food and drink specialist stores – which includes greengrocers, butchers and bakeries – grew 54.3%, a 3.6% improvement from last month, as shoppers continued to support local businesses.

Discount stores which were able to stay open when non-essential shops closed in England – also proved popular with a rise of 37.8%, while specialist retailers such as toy shops, jewellers and gift shops also saw sales rise 85.8%.

But elsewhere, social distancing rules hampered the hospitality sector, with steeper year-on-year declines at restaurants (-56.7%) and pubs & bars (-56.3%) than were seen in October.

Raheel Ahmed, head of consumer products, said: “Despite the restrictions in November, Brits are feeling more positive about their household finances as they start to prepare for the festive season. Christmas trees are going up just that bit earlier, and many are planning to spend more treating their loved ones after such a testing year.

“Supermarkets, local shops, and online retailers have all performed strongly, while the longer evenings at home saw spend soar on digital subscriptions and electronics, helped by new consoles hitting the market.

“Unfortunately, the hospitality and entertainment sectors have continued to suffer. The big question now is whether Brits will flock to the high street for Christmas shopping after the November lockdown, providing a much-needed boost in December.”

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