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Spending on essential items soars amid fears of fuel and food shortages

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Higher fuel prices and panic buying has driven spending on essential items to a more than two-year high.

Essential spending increased by 14.4 per cent in September, with supermarket shopping up around 15 per cent and fuel spend up 11 per cent, according to data from Barclaycard.

Drivers have been flocking to forecourts over fears of a petrol shortage due to a shortage of truck drivers, while anxious shoppers have been clearing supermarket shelves of key supplies for the same reason.

Spending on non-essential items was up 13 per cent last month. However, the increase was slightly smaller than the 16 per cent reported in August, which given rising inflation may indicate some consumers are starting to cut-back on discretionary purchases, Barclaycard said.

Some 90 per cent of consumers are concerned about the impact the rising cost of everyday items will have on their household finances, with 31 per cent feeling optimistic about the economy down from 37 per cent in August.

Meanwhile, pubs, bars and clubs benefited from a 44 per cent spending boost as colleagues reunited at post-work gatherings, while entertainment saw its strongest growth in more than two years of 28 per cent with new film releases, gigs and theatre shows encouraging Brits back to venues.

Although still in decline, travel agents (-45.4 per cent) and airlines (-49.5 per cent) had month-on-month improvements (compared to -53.3 per cent and -53.0 per cent in August), as holidaymakers booked overseas trips to enjoy the end of summer.

Raheel Ahmed, head of consumer products at Barcalycard, said: “The return of pupils and workers to schools and offices helped many sectors to see strong uplifts in September.

“Pubs, bars and clubs and the entertainment industry benefitted from post-work socialising, while international travel was given a boost as holidaymakers jetted off to warmer climes to squeeze in their last trips of summer.

“Consumers are, however, starting to feel the impact of rising prices on their personal finances, which is also hampering confidence levels. While this is causing some Brits to seek out value in their purchases, as the festive season approaches, we expect spending to gradually gather pace as shoppers start buying gifts and preparing for gatherings with loved ones.”

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