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Consumer spending jumps past pre-pandemic levels amid online boom
31 December 2021

Consumer spending shot higher against pre-pandemic levels in 2021 as the boom in online shopping continued, according to new figures.

Barclaycard said consumer credit card spending rose by 5.9% in 2021 compared with 2019, despite the closure of shops, hospitality and leisure firms for significant parts of the year. The credit card giant said spending on hospitality and leisure was noticeably impacted by the periods of restrictions.

However, it added that social distancing measures and other virus curbs spurred demand for indoor experiences and outdoor pursuits, with shoppers spending more on digital entertainment and at outdoor and sports retailers.

The boom for home improvement as people spruced up their homes after periods of lockdown also continued from 2020 into the past year.

Shopping online proved popular throughout the year as online retail recorded strong growth of 63.2% compared to face-to-face retail spending, which saw a noticeably smaller rise of 0.6%, as shoppers continued to shop from digital devices at home and on the move.

Jose Carvalho, head of consumer products at Barclaycard, said: “2021 was another challenging year, as the pandemic continued to hamper the UK economy.

“However, categories such as local food retailers, takeaways and digital entertainment continued to do well, thanks to Brits’ demand for convenient, local and at-home shopping experiences.

“In addition, with more time spent working from home, Brits continued to invest in their households, resulting in strong growth for both DIY and pet stores.”

The data from Barclaycard showed that homeowners splashed out more on their properties, with spending on home improvements and DIY up 26.2% and furniture 19.8% higher.

Consumers also brought more pets into their homes, resulting in a 29.1% jump in spending on vets and pet retailers.

The boom in staycations saw UK hotels and resorts bounce back in the summer, with 3.7% growth in June and 15.9% in August.

Clare Bailey, founder of the Retail Champion, said: “It is encouraging to see that many categories have enjoyed growth in what has been another turbulent year.

Local shops continue to be supported by community-spirited Brits, while sports, clothing and health and beauty retailers all saw uplifts as the nation enjoyed post-lockdown life.

“While the economic impact of Omicron remains to be seen, we can admire the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors for once again adapting to ever-evolving circumstances and overcoming so many challenges this year.”


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