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Consumer spending holds up despite storms and coronavirus

Paloma Kubiak
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Paloma Kubiak

Spending on boxsets and takeaways increased in February as Brits chose to stay at home to avoid the bad weather and spread of coronavirus.

Data from Barclaycard, which sees nearly half of the UK’s credit and debit card transactions, shows expenditure on digital content and subscriptions rose by 12.4% in February, while spending on takeaways and fast food rose by 8.7%.

The figures show spending on essential items rose by 1.6%, bolstered by supermarket and fuel expenditure, which grew by 1.3% and 2.5% respectively.

Spending on non-essentials saw slightly stronger growth of 2.4%.

However, research by Barclaycard found three in 10 Brits spent less because of storms Ciara and Dennis, and 28% of people said they avoided the high street and other busy places because of fears surrounding coronavirus.

Spending in department stores fell 3.6%, while clothing expenditure dipped by 1.7%.

Overall, consumer spending grew by 2.2% year-on-year.

Despite the bad weather and coronavirus, consumer confidence in the UK economy remains high with 42% of UK adults feeling positive, up from 32% a year ago.

This confidence is driven largely by Brits believing that progress is being made around Brexit.

However, in a sign of ongoing consumer cautiousness, 36% of UK adults remain careful with their money and more than half (54%) are worried about the rising prices of everyday items and how this will impact their ability to spend.

Esme Harwood, director at Barclaycard, said: “Storms, floods and fears about the spread of coronavirus have kept many Brits away from the high street this month. Despite this, broader consumer spending has held up as people put their money towards enjoying a takeaway and digital subscriptions.”