UK Consumer Spending Report

December key insights

Consumer card spending increased 12.2% in December, compared to the same period 2019. However, the arrival of the new Omicron variant and subsequent Plan B restrictions introduced by the government impacted businesses across the UK.

Barclays UK Consumer Spend Report gives you a unique and up to date picture of the nation’s spending habits based on the actual transactions, bringing it to life so you can take action and shape your strategy.

Our latest report looks at UK Consumer spending patterns to the period 20 November 2021 to 24 December 2021.


In-Store and Online Growth slows

December was another turbulent month for businesses across the UK. Online spend grew 26.2%, whilst face-to-face spend remained in marginal growth up 3.3%, however both categories saw reduced growth relative to last month (30.4% and 7.5% respectively).

As Brits spent more time at home following ‘Plan B’, spending on both Digital, Content & Subscriptions and Takeaways & Fast Food remained in strong growth up 41.0% and 62.6% respectively.

Looking ahead, New Year’s resolutions could be a catalyst for optimism, with nearly a fifth (19.0%) expecting to spend extra money in 2022 to achieve their goals. Featuring prominently amongst consumer goals were personal fitness, holidays abroad and home gym equipment.1

1Barclaycard Consumer Confidence Survey December 2021

Essential card spending grew 13.7% in December, a figure broadly in line with November (13.6%) as Brits stocked up with Food & Drink from Supermarkets and other essentials in preparation for Christmas festivities.

Non-essential card spending saw reduced growth in December, up 11.5% versus the same period in 2019 (+18.3% in November). This comes as fears around the new Omicron variant prevented some consumers from visiting non-essential Retail outlets and Hospitality & Leisure venues.

Spending on fuel continued to accelerate in the lead up to Christmas, up 11.8% versus the same period in 2019. This comes as Brits travelled home to see friends and family in the midst of record high Fuel prices with petrol approaching 150p per litre.

Hospitality and Leisure

Overseas Travel takes another hit

The arrival of the new variant tempered the enthusiasm of Brits to travel overseas once again in December as both Airlines and Travel Agents saw larger declines in spend after a few stronger months. Spend at Airlines fell -38.8% versus the same period in 2019 (-22.7% in November), whilst spend at Travel Agents saw a steeper decline, falling 45.4% (-23.2% in November).

However, Taxi’s & Limousines bucked the negative trend in the Travel category with spend up 10.6%, a signal that some Brits were opting to Travel via Taxi’s rather than public transport if possible.

The emergence of the Omicron variant proved to be another thorn in the side of both the Hospitality & Leisure and Travel sectors in what has been a turbulent year. As Covid fears persist, it was interesting to see Brits continuing to favour taxi as a core mode of transport.

Mike Saul

Head of Hospitality and Leisure


Furniture & Home Improvement retailers buck the downward trend

Despite many Retail categories seeing reduced growth in December, Furniture Stores and Home Improvement & DIY Retailers performed comparatively well, up 22.4% and 21.5% respectively.

Driving the largest growth in Furniture Store spend were consumers in the highest income bracket, with spend from those on an income of £100k+ up 41.5%. However, those in the lower income brackets also posted strong growth in a sign that Brits were continuing to take advantage of time at home to invest in their property.

December was another unsettled month for Retailers, including Clothing outlets who saw reduced trade as shoppers cut back their spending on new outfits in light of Christmas gatherings being cancelled. However, investing in the home continued to be a big theme as Brits spent more time at home.

Karen Johnson

Head of Consumer and Healthcare

Barclays Market and Customer Insights

Barclays Market and Customer Insights unlocks a wealth of customer transaction data and brings it to life so you can take action and shape your strategy.

We can help you keep up-to-date with spending trends, monitor your market position and enhance your understanding of customer behaviour, based on actual customer spending.

Leveraging anonymised data from our 250 million monthly customer transactions in the UK can help you understand who your customers are and how, when, and where they spend.

Contact the Barclays Market and Customer Insights team

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