According to preliminary insights from Mastercard SpendingPulse, total U.K. retail sales (excluding auto) for the holiday period running from November 1 – December 24 were up 2.6% year-on-year.
SpendingPulse measures in-store and online retail sales across all forms of payment and is not adjusted for inflation.
There’s been a festive return to in-person experiences, as spend on restaurants increased by over 11.4% and in-store sales increased 3.5% year-on-year (YoY).
U.K. consumer spend volume during the period peaked during Black Friday, as savvy shoppers looked out for promotions to make the most of their spending and navigate inflation. This was particularly true for categories like electronics, which saw sales spike on Cyber Monday.
The research found there was a return to the high street: In-store sales were up 3.5% as shoppers came back to the high street, whilst online sales were down 2.8%, showing that consumers still have an appetite for shopping in-person.
A lasting impression: Jewellery saw significant growth: up 8.3% YoY, proving that it continues to be a festive favourite when it comes to gifts.
Dressing up and dining out: British consumers were updating their wardrobes ahead of the festive party season, with clothing sales up 8%. They dressed to impress, while spend in restaurants increased [11.4%], showing that despite a difficult macroeconomic environment, the British consumer is resilient when it comes to celebrating.
Savvy shoppers look for sales: Consumers picked their moments and waited for discounts before splashing out on the latest games and phones. Although electronic sales for the festive period were slightly up (+1.9%), sale prices drove a considerable spend increase on Cyber Monday, up 9.2% YoY.
Natalia Lechmanova, Senior Economist, Europe for Mastercard said, “The British consumer has been savvy with their spending this year. Although overall retail spend is relatively flat, we’ve seen an increase in spending on Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions when it comes to electronics in particular.
“Shoppers have been willing to splash out for gifts, with spend on jewellery and clothing up considerably year-on-year, but wanted to do so at the right price.”
“We’ve also seen a cautiously optimistic return to the high street. British consumers want to celebrate during the festive period, and we’ve seen spend on restaurants increase by over 10% as people continue to value experiences and spending time together post-pandemic.”