Consumer spending grew 3.3 per cent year-on-year in November, dipping to the lowest level of growth since March, when the ‘Beast from the East’ took its toll on the high street.
Data from Barclaycard, which sees nearly half of the nation’s credit and debit card transactions, shows that expenditure on essentials rose modestly by 4.0 per cent, bolstered by a rise in petrol spending of 8.9 per cent amidst ongoing fuel price increases.
The retail sector continued to face tough times, as it seems consumers held off spending ahead of the festive season and even the onset of the cold weather wasn’t enough to tempt shoppers to buy their winter wardrobes. Clothing spending contracted by 2.9 per cent, the biggest fall since October 2017. Similarly, department stores and electronic stores saw contractions of 7.1 per cent and 4.9 per cent respectively.
Entertainment, on the other hand, remained relatively strong at 8.7 per cent, with ticket sales soaring 30.5 per cent – the highest increase since November 2014 – as the Spice Girls reunion tour and Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald helped to boost sales. Continuing the recent trend, spending was also up at pubs (11.3 per cent) and restaurants (8.3 per cent).
November’s subdued figures reflect a cautious mood amongst consumers. Just 52 per cent of UK adults now say that they have confidence in their household finances – the lowest level recorded since Barclaycard began tracking this data in 2015.
What’s more, non-essential expenditure also saw a drop last month to 2.9 per cent growth, the lowest level since March this year. This decrease is also reflected by just 40 per cent of Brits reporting they feel confident in their ability to spend on non-essential items.
To balance the household budget, 64 per cent of shoppers also say they are being careful to seek out value for money in the purchases they make.
While Black Friday was again a much-hyped retail event, just 16 per cent of consumers said they expect to spend less in December as a result of making Christmas purchases in the final week of November – indicating that many shoppers still plan to spend as usual during the festive period.
Esme Harwood, Director at Barclaycard, said: “November was a mixed month, with department store and clothing spending contracting but entertainment remaining strong. It seems shoppers are yet to make their main Christmas purchases for friends, family and loved ones – despite many retailers offering Black Friday discounts to try and boost sales.
“This may be unsurprising, given we’ve seen consumer confidence in household finances fall to a record low, likely influenced by ongoing political and economic uncertainty. As the final countdown to Christmas begins, it will be interesting to see whether shoppers will be enticed back to the high street over the next few weeks.”