Consumer confidence returning to pre-pandemic levels

Consumer confidence in the UK is returning to pre-pandemic levels as consumer spending is up on the same period in 2019, new figures from Barclaycard show.

The report from Barclaycard, which oversees nearly half of the nation’s credit and debit card transactions, found that the nation is feeling more positive about the future, with confidence in the economy leaping to 36 per cent in April compared to 28 per cent in March.

The report also discovered that 17 per cent of consumers say they are happier and more relaxed than they have been for a long time.

Spending on essential items rose over 10 per cent compared to 2019 as shops re-open while overall spend on non-essential items observed its smallest decline so far this year, falling 4.4 per cent compared to 2019.

Clothing spend among 16-24 year olds also grew 2.1 per cent as young people purchased new outfits in preparation for easing of lockdown restrictions.

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

A chilly April meant that the hospitality industry’s recovery was slower than it would have hoped as pubs and restaurants saw -67.2 per cent and 74.4 per cent declines respectively as opposed to March’s figures of -94.8 per cent and 83.1 per cent.

Sports and outdoor retailers were another success, sales rising 26.2 per cent as gyms opened back up.

Face-to-face spending at food & drink specialist stores, which include including butchers, bakeries and greengrocers, saw a significant uplift of 63.7 per cent compared to 2019.

Furniture spend saw a 27.1 per cent rise, the largest growth since August 2020 as customers were able to browse shops again.

“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,” Barclaycard head of consumer products Raheel Ahmed said.

“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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