Consumer spending drops 16% in January as shoppers “continue habits formed in first lockdown”


Consumer spending fell 16.3 per cent in January marking its sharpest decline since May 2020, with online shopping continuing to be the only respite for retail.

According to new data from Barclaycard, which sees nearly half of the nation’s credit and debit card transactions, Brits have “continued habits they formed in the first lockdown” to negate the impact of physical store closures.

Spending on essential items saw a modest rise of 3.9 per cent in January, almost entirely driven by a 17 per cent jump in supermarket spending.

In turn this was bolstered by a whopping 126.8 per cent jump in online supermarket sales.

While online food shopping has been a staple for most of the UK during lockdown, it was driven by a 332.5 per cent growth in over 65s shopping online for the first time.

According to Barclaycard, 57 per cent of shoppers said they would prefer to visit a store rather than take a delivery slot from those who need it more, helping encourage older more vulnerable shoppers unfamiliar with ecommerce online.

READ MORE: Online grocery sales hit highest levels on record in January

On the whole online retail surged 73.2 per cent, accounting for 54 per cent of all retail spend in January.

Aside from supermarkets, specialist retailers like stationery, sport and outdoor retailers saw online growth of 87.7 per cent.

“As the impact of the latest lockdown start to takes its toll, we’ve seen particular sectors struggle, as physical premises across the UK were forced to close,” Barclaycard’s head of consumer products Raheel Ahmed said.

“We have seen a surge in many online categories as the demand for home deliveries continues to rise. From meal kits and subscription services, to online grocery shopping, Brits have continued habits they formed in the first lockdown, with a record high seen in spending on takeaways and fast food.

“While confidence in job security has reached its lowest point in over a year, the ongoing vaccine rollout means that Brits believe there is hope on the horizon, and we all look forward to being reunited with much-missed family and friends later in the year.”

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