Jan 12, 2021
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December spending drops, fashion struggles but increases online - Barclaycard

Jan 12, 2021

Consumer spending fell 2.3% year-on-year in December – the biggest drop since June – as areas moving into higher tiers, and reimposed lockdowns, dented the kind of activity usually seen in the festive season.

Online shopping was key to the UK's December retail sales - Image: Tumisu/Pixabay

That’s according to Barclaycard, which sees nearly half of the UK’s credit and debit card transactions. It said that while spending on essential items grew 4.5% year-on-year, department store spending dropped as much as 15.2% and clothing was down 7.3%, ending a bad year for fashion on a decidedly low note. Total in-store spending fell 8.3%.

Overall spending on non-essential items dropped 4.9%, and while it was the biggest decline in six months as mentioned, back in June, the fall had been a massive 22.3% so the December drop was a bit less discouraging.

But online retail increased as much as 52.2% as the usual online shift seen during the Christmas season was exaggerated by consumers being less able (or willing) to visit physical stores. It meant online accounted for almost half (46.8%) of all retail spending in December.

Specialist retailers (which includes toy shops, jewellers and gift shops) and clothing both enjoyed significant growth online, rising 61.9% and 34% respectively.

The continued restrictions across the UK mean that Britons’ confidence in the economy remains low at 22% – almost 20% lower than at the same time last year.

But there’s some cause for optimism about what might happen later in the year. As many as 22% of consumers are already making plans for a big holiday at some point in 2021, which should boost summer fashion, while 24% are feeling more confident about spending on non-essential items than they have been for a long time. Some 40% of them say it’s because they’ve saved more money than normal recently.

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