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Michael Brown

Acting Editor
Published: 12/04/2022
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Spending on essential items increased 18.1% since March 2019.

UK consumer card spending on essential items, such as fuel and food, increased 18.1% since March 2019, one year before the first lockdown measures were introduced in the UK.

This was largely due to an increase in fuel spending, which surged 26.1% in the same period, according to Barclaycard.

The global payment business, which is part of the Barclays Bank group and sees data from nearly half of the UK’s credit and debit card transactions, said two fifths of drivers are now changing their habits in response.

Of this number, over half are walking more to their destination while 22% are cycling instead.

Shopping at supermarkets increased 16.9% over the three year period, which has forced over half of shoppers to cut down on luxuries. In addition, 48% of shoppers are switching from branded items to budget grocery items.

“Rising fuel prices and household bills are clearly starting to influence consumer behaviour, with many Brits changing their travel and shopping habits to save money,” said José Carvalho, Head of Consumer Products at Barclaycard.

Discretionary spending still rises

Although the cost of living is on the rise, spending on discretionary items, such as takeaways and hotels, rose 17.5% since March 2019.

“Many sectors saw strong growth in March compared to the same period in 2019, as sunnier weather encouraged Brits to socialise at pubs and bars, book staycations and update their wardrobes for spring and summer,” said Carvalho.

Pubs, bars and clubs were the recipients of a 41.7% increased spending spree in this period as all social distancing measures were lifted in February this year. Barclaycard also noted that the rise of contactless over cash payments in the past three years could also further explain this rise.

Spending on takeaways and fast food surged almost 80% in spending compared to three years previously, possibly reflecting a lockdown trend which is now part of modern living.

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