UK Consumer Spending Report

August key insights

Consumer spending continued to thrive in August, up 15.4% compared to the same period in 2019, as Brits enjoyed school holidays and a return to normal life.

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 24 July 2021 to 20 August 2021.


Optimism for the Eating & Drinking industry

There were promising signs for the Eating & Drinking industry as card spend grew 44.3%, boosted by strong performance from Bars, Pubs & Clubs (+43.4%), but more notably a return to growth in Restaurant spend for the first time since the onset of the pandemic, up 0.1%. This trend looks set to continue as 79.0% have already started working from the office or expect to return shortly, with over a quarter (26.0%) planning to spend more on socialising after work.*

August marked the first month where non-essential spend growth exceeded essential spend growth, however there were signs of caution as 64.0% of consumers are worried that everyday items are becoming more expensive and expect to make lifestyle changes to limit the impact on their household finances.*

*Barclaycard Consumer Confidence Survey August 2021

Essential spend remained in strong growth, up 14.5%. Fuel spend continued to grow, up 7.2%, a new high point since the onset of the pandemic as more Brits returned to the office and embarked on days out and staycations with family and friends.

Non-essential spend reached a new high point in August, up 15.9% as Brits revelled in a return to normality with spend at Bars, Pubs & Clubs up 43.4%. Department Stores also grew 4.4% in what is only the second uplift for the category this year after May when non-essential shops reopened after lockdown.

It was a bumper month for the Entertainment sector with spend rising 24.2% as festival season kicked off and Brits embarked on summertime days out to Theme Parks, Bowling Alleys, Zoos and Aquariums.

Hospitality and Leisure

A strong month for Hotels, Resorts & Accommodation

The Hospitality & Leisure sector reached a significant milestone in August, returning to positive growth for the first time since pre-Covid with spend up 6.4% versus the same period in 2019.

This was boosted by a 17.5% increase in spend at Hotels, Resorts & Accommodation, a huge improvement on the 7.8% growth reported in July as Brits made the most of the summer holidays by embarking on staycations and weekend hotel breaks.

It was particularly encouraging this month to see the travel sector get a small, but welcome boost by consumers beginning to book overseas breaks, with the change in quarantine rules for fully vaccinated people along with the summer holidays driving more bookings.

Mike Saul

Head of Hospitality and Leisure


Household & Grocery spend cools

Grocery spend remained up 19.9%, however this was the lowest level of growth since pre-Covid. This was driven by a cool off in Supermarket spend which grew only 15.2%, perhaps a consequence of consumers spending more on meals out at restaurants.

There were also signs Brits were beginning to cut back on Household spend with Home Improvements & DIY spend up only 23.8%, down from a high of 37.5% in April.

Despite the cooling spend in other Retail sectors, it was a fantastic month for Clothing retailers who posted record growth, helped not only by the summer sales being in full swing, but also by parents preparing their children for the upcoming return to school with new uniforms.

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.

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