Online retail, take-out and pet follies dominate UK spending in 2021

British households have been splurging on online shopping, take-out and fast food, home improvements and their pets’ treat in 2021, a review of transactions by Barclaycard has revealed.

Consumer card spending has increased 5.9% in the past year, with people seeking the convenience of online retail therapy and home comforts to offset restrictions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Online shopping increased in early 2021, when all non-essential retail and hospitality businesses remained closed due to virus restrictions, with Barclaycard recording an 87.7% increase in March 2021 compared to 2019.

Shoppers continued to shop on their screens throughout 2021, with online retail seeing ‘strong growth’ of 63.2% compared to in-person retail spending, which saw an increase. significantly lower by 0.6%.

As households continued to depend on door-to-door grocery deliveries, online grocery spending also saw its biggest increase of the year in March, rising 119.7%. Overall, online retail accounted for more than half (51.8%) of all retail spending this year.

Home renovations was another area where the British spent their money to make the stay at home more comfortable and entertaining. Spending on home renovations and DIY furniture rose 26.2 percent and 19.8 percent, respectively.

In terms of indoor entertainment, digital content and subscriptions increased by almost 50% and electronics spending increased by 10.3% as households acquired the latest movies, box sets and game consoles.

Reflecting the huge increase in the number of pet owners since the start of the pandemic, with around 3.2 million UK households adding a pet to their family, spending on vets and pet stores has increased by 29 , 1% compared to 2019.

Staying at home also prompted people to spend more on take out and fast food, which rose 62% in 2021.

But even after the easing of Covid measures over the summer, Barclaycard noted that “demand for speed and ease remains a notable pillar” among consumers. Many have relied on the convenience of local stores and delivery services, with specialty stores like butchers, greengrocers and meal kit suppliers recording a 74% increase in sales.

All was not lost for the hospitality and leisure sector, however, with sites showing signs of recovery since restrictions eased in July.

Ahead of the emergence of the new Omicron variant of Covid-19 at the end of November, spending in pubs, bars and clubs increased in the second half of 2021, including a 43.5% increase in September.

Holidays in the UK have seen huge demand this year as the pandemic continued to hamper international travel, with hotels, resorts and accommodation growing for the first time since before the public health crisis.

Although research by Goldman Sachs online bank Marcus predicts that vacation spending will become a top priority for 2022, Barclaycard warns that the outlook remains uncertain due to the increase in Covid cases, as well as other financial challenges that consumers will face.

Jose Carvalho, Head of Consumer Products at Barclaycard, said: “As we look to 2022, the economy will face new challenges from rising household bills, inflation and uncertainty regarding the new variant of Covid.

“Yet, as we have seen over the past two years, consumers and businesses are able to adapt and overcome immense difficulties and adversities – the determination and determination of the British public to succeed is the reason that I’m still optimistic about for the coming year, and what it can bring.


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Anne G. Cash