Consumer card spending increased in 2022 – fuelled by travelling abroad, post-lockdown socialising and rising inflation

Consumer card spending grew by 10.6 per cent in 2022 – fuelled by holidays abroad and socialising after all lockdown restrictions were lifted, as well as rising inflation.

Data from Barclaycard found the amount spent on its debit and credit cards rose year-on-year as people returned to shopping in-store, eating and drinking out and booking holidays.

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However, spending on essential items also grew by 6.3 per cent, thanks to a 28.3 per cent rise in fuel spend, driven by surging petrol and diesel prices and increased car use as life returned to normal post-pandemic.

Meanwhile, the cost-of-living squeeze meant overall retail spend was down compared to 2021.

These insights emerged from Barclaycard’s monthly Consumer Spending Index, which combines customer transactions on debit and credit cards with consumer confidence data.

Esme Harwood, at Barclaycard, said: “The lifting of all Covid restrictions meant card spending was up overall compared to last year.

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Hospitality, leisure and travel all received a boost as Brits made up for lost time by socialising with friends and jetting off on holidays.

“However, the cost-of-living squeeze has clearly impacted the retail sector.”

The data also showed surging energy prices caused purse strings to tighten, with the average customer spending 32.9 per cent more on utilities than last year, based on credit and debit card transactions, as well as direct debits.

As a result, Brits became more worried about the impact of rising household bills on their personal finances, with 92 per cent now expressing concern about this, up from 86 per cent last year.

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The retail sector overall saw a five per cent increase in the total number of card transactions, however the total amount spent was down nearly one per cent as customers opted for smaller baskets.

But as shoppers returned to stores, face-to-face retail spending rose by 8.3 per cent, but online retail spending declined by -12.2 per cent.

Face-to-face spending at supermarkets was also up 2.1 per cent while online spending fell -12.8 per cent.

But despite the rising cost-of-living, spending on groceries was down 0.1 per cent as consumers looked to reduce the cost of their food shop.

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Consumers reduce their basket sizes

The lifting of all Covid-19 restrictions meant pubs, bars and clubs recorded growth of 37.1 per cent and 53.6 per cent respectively.

The reopening of live event venues also gave the entertainment sector a sizeable 41.1 per cent boost.

The reduction in working from home, and the return of holidays and nights out, also corresponded with people investing more in their appearances.

Pharmacy, health and beauty retailers saw noticeable growth compared to 2021, as well as clothing and department stores (14.7 per cent, 11.2 per cent and 7.4 per cent respectively).

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While holidaymakers booked more getaways abroad, resulting in large increases for travel agents (190.6 per cent) and airlines (132.1 per cent), staycations were still popular, with hotels, resorts and accommodation seeing an uplift of 27.5 per cent.

But not every sector fared so well from the end of restrictions as spending on home improvements fell -5.5 per cent, and digital content and subscriptions saw a decline of -0.8 per cent.

Esme Harwood added: “Consumers have had to rein in spending on purchases like subscriptions and home improvements, as well as reduce their basket sizes in general.

“As these inflationary pressures continue, all categories are likely to face further headwinds in 2023.

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“However, I am optimistic that both consumers and businesses will continue to find ways to adapt and cope with these challenges, as they did throughout the pandemic.”

Also commenting on the findings, Harry Wallop, Retail Expert and Commentator, said: “2022 has been a contrasting year for retail and consumer spending.

“On one hand, the pent-up demand from the pandemic for trips abroad and evenings out has given a sizeable boost to some key sectors.

“In turn, this has had a positive impact on categories such as clothing and health and beauty.

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“On the other hand, consumers are increasingly conscious about the cost of the items they’re buying and many are changing their behaviours to monitor their outgoings.

“As we head into next year, it’s likely that Brits will remain in a similar mindset – keen to conserve their cash where possible but also happy to splash out on items and experiences that give them a boost once in a while.”

Consumer Spending Index 2022

  • Essential: 6.3% (spend growth) 10.4% (transactional growth)
  • Non Essential: 12.9% (spend growth) 13.9% (transactional growth)

Overall: 10.6% (spend growth) 12.5% (transactional growth)

  • Retail: -0.8% (spend growth) 5.0% (transactional growth)
  • Clothing: 11.2% (spend growth) 14.7% (transactional growth)
  • Grocery: -0.1% (spend growth)  7.9% (transactional growth)
  • Supermarkets: 0.1% (spend growth) 7.0% (transactional growth)
  • Food & Drink Specialist: -1.1% (spend growth) 13.3% (transactional growth)
  • Household: -5.4% (spend growth) -2.2% (transactional growth)
  • Home Improvements & DIY: -5.5% (spend growth) -7.5% (transactional growth)
  • Electronics: -7.2% (spend growth) 5.0% (transactional growth)
  • Furniture Stores: -3.3% (spend growth) -0.2% (transactional growth)
  • General Retailers: -6.2% (spend growth) -4.7% (transactional growth)
  • General Retailers & Catalogues: -9.9% (spend growth) -9.5% (transactional growth)
  • Department Stores: 7.4% (spend growth) 14.7% (transactional growth)
  • Discount Stores: -2.7% (spend growth) 1.1% (transactional growth)
  • Specialist Retailers: 5.7% (spend growth) 12.1% (transactional growth)
  • Pharmacy, Health & Beauty: 14.7% (spend growth) 18.3% (transactional growth)
  • Sports & Outdoor: -2.8% (spend growth) 4.0% (transactional growth)
  • Other Specialist Retailers: 3.6% (spend growth) 8.1% (transactional growth)
  • Hospitality & Leisure: 45.1%(spend growth) 25.5% (transactional growth)
  • Digital Content & Subscriptions: -0.8% (spend growth) -1.6% (transactional growth)
  • Eating & Drinking: 30.8% (spend growth) 30.5% (transactional growth)
  • Restaurants: 37.1% (spend growth) 34.9% (transactional growth)
  • Bars, Pubs & Clubs: 53.6% (spend growth) 66.1% (transactional growth)
  • Takeaways and Fast Food: 12.3% (spend growth) 15.8% (transactional growth)
  • Other Food & Drink: 37.9% (spend growth) 30.5% (transactional growth)
  • Entertainment: 41.1% (spend growth) 49.2% (transactional growth)
  • Hotels, Resorts & Accommodation: 27.5% (spend growth) 39.4% (transactional growth)
  • Travel: 115.5% (spend growth)   39.6% (transactional growth)
  • Travel Agents: 190.6% (spend growth) 124.5% (transactional growth)
  • Airlines: 132.1% (spend growth) 115.7% (transactional growth)
  • Public Transport: 55.9% (spend growth) 40.7% (transactional growth)
  • Other Travel: 57.3% (spend growth) 26.2% (transactional growth)
  • Other: 9.7% (spend growth) 13.2% (transactional growth)
  • Fuel: 28.3% (spend growth) 7.9% (transactional growth)
  • Motoring: 2.0% (spend growth) 35.6% (transactional growth)
  • Other Services: 3.6% (spend growth) 8.7% (transactional growth)
  • Insperiences: 4.1% (spend growth) 6.4% (transactional growth)
  • Online: 4.3% (spend growth) -2.2% (transactional growth)
  • Face-to-Face: 16.4% (spend growth) 19.6% (transactional growth)
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