July sees continued improvement in consumer spending

Consumer spending declined 2.6 per cent year-on-year in July – the smallest fall since lockdown began.

Data from Barclaycard showed that spending on essential items grew 3.2 per cent year-on-year, largely driven by supermarket shopping, which rose by 15 per cent, helping to offset a 22.2 per cent drop in fuel spend.

While spending on non-essential items declined by 4.7 per cent, this was a significant improvement from the 22.3 per cent contraction seen in June. Shopping locally contributed to the recovery, with food and drink specialist stores - including off licences, greengrocers, and independent convenience stores - up 43.3 per cent and takeaway and fast food by 20.4 per cent.

These figures are a reflection of 45 per cent of Brits choosing to support nearby businesses, with a fifth visiting local stores more often, and 19 per cent spending more than usual.

Sports and outdoor stores saw a 27.7 per cent sales increase, as warmer weather and the start of the school summer holidays in England and Wales encouraged more people to spend time outside.

Pharmacy, health and beauty shops were up four per cent, a notable increase from the 33 per cent fall in June, as hairdressers, nail bars and beauty salons started to re-open their doors.

Furniture stores and electronics reported their highest figures this year - growing 46.4 per cent and 22.7 per cent respectively - while home improvement and DIY also rose by 27.1 per cent.

The research showed that 37 per cent of UK adults are now unconcerned about visiting shops, with those aged over 55 being most likely to say they aren’t concerned, while 18 to 34 year-olds were the least likely to feel this way.

Esme Harwood, director at Barclaycard, said that 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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