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UK Consumer Spending Report

15 September 2020

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.

August 2020

Consumer spending grew by 0.2% year on year in August, the first rise since February this year

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 25 July to 21 August 2020.

Highlights this month:

  • The 0.2% year-on-year growth in overall consumer spending reflects a much more positive picture for retail.
  • Non-essential spending saw its smallest fall since the lockdown began, with a 1.6% drop year-on-year compared to a 4.7% fall in July. 
  • Essential spending rose by 5.1% year-on-year, largely driven by stronger growth in grocery purchasing.
  • Online spending increased by 10.6% year-on-year and continues to claim a higher share of spend in most categories than before lockdown.

Big picture spend update

A big year-on-year uplift in grocery purchasing pushed essential spending up 5.1%. Despite lower pump prices, fuel spending recovered slightly, experiencing a 13.3% fall compared to July’s 22.2.% decline. Fuel transaction levels were very close to those of last year –down just 2.4% –reflecting an increase in staycations and people’s gradual return to workplaces. 

Non-essential spending fell by just 1.6%, marking the smallest contraction since lockdown was initiated. The retail sector had a positive month in many areas, with clothing growth at 0.3%, its first increase since March 2019, boosted by end-of-season sales and back-to-school spending. Eating and drinking also enjoyed something of a resurgence, encouraged by the government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme. 

Category snapshot: what are UK consumers spending on?

Retail enjoyed a better month overall, with a 17.1% year-on-year uplift, and increases in virtually all categories. A healthy increase in grocery shopping and an upsurge in online purchasing at specialist food and drink retailers led to the category’s largest increase by far this year at 54.7%. Clothing was another bright spot, achieving its first positive growth since March 2019, and department stores saw their smallest fall in spend since February. Specialist retailers such as sports & outdoor and florists performed more strongly, as did jewellers, as restrictions on weddings were relaxed.

While hospitality and leisure spending continued to decline overall, there were hopeful signs. The decline for hotels, resorts and accommodation was the smallest since lockdown. Eating and drinking enjoyed something of a recovery helped by the eat-out scheme, transaction volumes rose across the sector with takeaway and fast food seeing a 2.8% growth and transactions in pubs, bars and clubs were up 9.1% as people enjoyed summer weather and the chance to socialise. Restaurant transactions declined 39.1%, although this was a significantly smaller fall than the 64.2% seen in July as customers returned to take advantage of the eat-out scheme.

Channel snapshot: how are UK consumers spending?

Online spending increased by 10.6% to claim a 44% share of total spend as the high street continued to struggle despite stores reopening, with in-store buying down 6.7%. Online spend for both grocery shopping and eating and drinking has expanded massively, reflecting the ongoing trend towards fresh food and meal box deliveries. 

Significantly, in almost all categories the online share of spend is still greater than it was pre-lockdown, indicating that even though stores have reopened, consumers are still more likely to be shopping online than they were before restrictions began. Supermarkets saw the largest uplift of any single online category at 102.7%, while online clothes shopping rose by 24.3%.

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