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Half of Brits to cut back on Christmas spending after summer splurge

Written by: Paloma Kubiak
Brits tightened their belts in September after an unusually strong summer of spending, and nearly half plan to cutback further this Christmas.

Data from Barclaycard, which sees nearly half of the nation’s credit and debit card transactions, shows consumer spending grew 3.9% year-on-year in September, down from 4.5% in August.

Essential spending was up 4.6%, down from the bumper 8.7% seen in July and 6.9% in August.

The increase was largely driven by continued spending in pubs, restaurants and on ticket sales, while rising fuel prices pushed spending on petrol higher.

Supermarket spending increased by 2.7%, a fairly shy figure compared to 6.7% in July and 5% in August.

Spending on women’s clothes fell by 3.5%, with spending on clothing overall remaining flat, suggesting the last of the warm summer weather meant people held off purchasing their winter staples.

But after an expensive summer spending boom due to the heatwave, it seems consumers are looking to rebalance their budgets for the rest of the year.

Some 46% of people surveyed said they’re planning to spend less on Christmas this year than they did in 2017.

Barclaycard said wider concerns about the country’s economic landscape were weighing on the minds of Brits.

Esme Harwood, director at Barclaycard, said: “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 shoppers will seek out value for money purchases – whether that’s everyday essentials or those discretionary or ‘nice to have’ items.”

Laura Suter, personal finance analyst at investment platform AJ Bell, said retailers already facing a tough time on the high-street aren’t likely to see rosier times ahead.

She said: “The troubles at House of Fraser, Debenhams and to a lesser extent John Lewis are shown in the fact that spending in department stores in September was almost 8% lower than the same month last year and has fallen every month for the past year.

“What’s more, the usual bumper Christmas spending boom is unlikely to bolster retailers this year, as almost half of Brits questioned said they plan to spend less this Christmas than they did last year. Brits are nervous about the effect Brexit will have on the economy and their finances, with almost two-thirds of those questioned lacking confidence in the UK economy.”

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