Consumer spending jumps past pre-pandemic levels amid online boom

Consumer spending in 2021 has surged higher than pre-pandemic levels as the ecommerce boom continues, according to research by Barclaycard.

The report revealed that consumer credit rose by 5.9% in 2021 compared to 2019, despite the closure of retailers for the majority of the year. However, spending on hospitality and leisure was noticeably impacted by the periods of restriction.

The credit card company also added that the social distancing measures spurred demand for indoor experiences and outdoor pursuits, with shoppers spending more on digital entertainment and at outdoor and sports retailers.

In addition, spending inside the household continued from 2020 into the past year, with a 29.1% jump in spending on pet retailers and vets and an increase in DIY purchases.

The boom in staycations also saw UK hotels and resorts bounce back in the summer, with 3.7% growth in June and 15.9% in August.

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“2021 was another challenging year, as the pandemic continued to hamper the UK economy,” Barclaycard head of consumer products Jose Carvalho said.

“However, categories such as local food retailers, takeaways and digital entertainment continued to do well, thanks to Brits’ demand for convenient, local and at-home shopping experiences.

“In addition, with more time spent working from home, Brits continued to invest in their households, resulting in strong growth for both DIY and pet stores.”

Retail Champion founder Clare Bailey added: “It is encouraging to see that many categories have enjoyed growth in what has been another turbulent year.”

“Local shops continue to be supported by community-spirited Brits, while sports, clothing and health and beauty retailers all saw uplifts as the nation enjoyed post-lockdown life.

“While the economic impact of Omicron remains to be seen, we can admire the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors for once again adapting to ever-evolving circumstances and overcoming so many challenges this year.”

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