May 11, 2021
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UK spending rises, fashion is key for younger shoppers

May 11, 2021

UK consumer spending grew 0.4% in April compared to the same period in 2019, the first growth recorded this year, Barclaycard’s monthly report showed on Tuesday. It also said that consumer confidence in the UK economy “is the highest it’s been since the onset of the pandemic”.

Photo: Pexels/Public domain

The growth may have been driven by spending on essential items (which rose 10.1% compared to April 2019), but non-essential items also showed some strength. Overall spending here saw its smallest decline so far this year with only a 4.4% drop compared to April two years ago.

And it was particularly encouraging that spending on clothing among those aged between 16 and 24 grew 2.1%, even though other age groups remained in decline. This suggested that those young people were enthusiastically embracing the reopening and getting ready to go out and socialise again.

Barclaycard also said that sports and outdoor retailers were another bright spot with a 26.2% increase.

As physical shops reopened last month, Barclaycard also said that face-to-face non-essential retail showed “promising signs of recovery”, with a decline of 17.4% compared to a sharper 50.5% drop in March.

And while spending at clothing and department stores dipped by 6.6% and 7.8% respectively, these were improvements on the 28.6% and 35.8% declines seen in March. 

Raheel Ahmed, Head of Consumer Products, said: “The easing of restrictions provided a promising boost to a number of sectors in April, with consumer spending back in growth and confidence in the UK economy at its highest level since before the onset of the pandemic. Younger shoppers have been spending more on clothing as they update their wardrobes in anticipation of socialising and making post-lockdown plans, while older consumers have boosted spending on UK accommodation and resorts, as they organise family staycations.

“The economy should hopefully gather momentum as we head into the summer and see the re-opening of indoor hospitality venues. Yet, what is most encouraging is that the easing of restrictions seems to have lifted the nation’s spirits, with many Brits relishing the simple pleasures of dining out and making social plans.”

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