Consumer spending recovers as mandatory face masks encourage shoppers back to high street


Consumer spending is beginning to return to pre-coronavirus levels as mandatory face coverings encourage shoppers back to the high street.

In July UK consumer spending dropped just 2.6 per cent compared to last year, marking the smallest decline since lockdown began according to new data from Barclaycard.

This was driven by a renewed confidence in physical shopping thanks to the introduction of mandatory face masks, seeing many older shoppers return to the high street for the first time in months.

According to Barclaycard, just under 40 per cent of shoppers say they’re now unconcerned about visiting shops, and 46 per cent of those said they were reassured by mandatory face coverings.

READ MORE: Etsy sells $346 million worth of face masks during record quarter

Local shopping also contributed to the recovery in July, with spending in off licences, greengrocers and independent convenience stores up a whopping 43.3 per cent.

During the month spending on essential items increased 3.2 per cent year-on-year boosted by a 15 per cent jump in supermarket shopping, despite fuel spending falling 22.2 per cent.

Non-essential items also saw a significant recovery falling just 4.7 per cent, a marked improvement from the 22.3 per cent drop seen a month earlier.

Financial confidence also jumped to levels not seen in the UK since January, with 72 per cent feeling confident about household finances and 58 per cent more confident about their ability to spend on non-essential items.

“Consumer spending has warmed up alongside the weather, as Brits return to the shops for non-essential items,” Barclaycard’s director Esme Harwood said.

“It’s a welcome development for retailers to see spending up across many sectors in the first full month of data since lockdown restrictions started to ease.

“However, a sense of cautiousness still prevails. While some consumers feel more comfortable returning to shops, others are still wary of taking public transport and travelling outside the UK, with fears and uncertainties lingering about returning to normality too quickly.”

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