UK Credit

Advance Christmas shopping and movie theaters boost UK consumer spending

Anticipated Christmas shopping, increased movie theaters and increased overseas travel boosted retail sales and consumer spending in the UK in October.

Retail sales rose 1.3% from the same month last year, up from 0.6% in September, according to data from the British Retail Consortium, a professional body, in association with consultancy firm KPMG .

It’s also 6.3% more than retail spending in October 2019, before the pandemic.

Helen Dickinson, CEO of BRC, said customer demand “is back on track before Christmas” as “some people have started their Christmas shopping early with beauty advent calendars flying off the shelves.” She added that more social events also boosted clothing and footwear sales.

Retail sales rose despite spending on furniture and electricity hampered by global logistics issues and chip shortages, the BRC said.

The figures allay some fears that rising inflation and energy prices will reverse the rebound in UK consumption.

Paul Martin, UK Retail Manager at KPMG said: “The much-reported cutback in household spending has yet to materialize as consumers seem happy to continue shopping.”

The figures correspond to separate data from Barclaycard, the credit card business of Barclays bank, which reported that consumer spending in the UK was up 14.2% in October compared to the same month in 2019 Unlike retail sales, consumer spending includes services such as restaurants and entertainment. .

Barclaycard data, based on almost half of all credit and debit card transactions in the UK, showed entertainment spending rose 28% in October. He was spurred on by movie bookings which first surpassed pre-pandemic levels as people flocked to see the launch of the new James Bond film, No time to die.

Separate data from Box Office Mojo showed that on the last weekend of October, when the film premiered, UK box office revenue was 23% higher than the same period in 2019.

Spending on international travel and public transport also recorded its best performance since before the start of the pandemic, as more restrictions were lifted and workers returned to their offices.

Sales by travel agents and airlines were still down about 27% from October 2019, but this was a big improvement from the nearly 50% minus the previous month.

Nearly nine in ten consumers said they were worried about the impact of rising inflation on their household finances, according to a monthly survey conducted by Barclaycard. A similar proportion said they feared rising bills would negatively impact their household finances.

However, Jose Carvalho, head of consumer products at Barclaycard, said that while the uncertainty surrounding rising household bills seems to be weighing on the minds of Britons, “the encouraging growth we have seen in entertainment and international travel shows that consumers are still keen to enjoy leisure and vacations ”.

“As the country continues with Christmas shopping and gears up for Black Friday and other sales, we are confident that November should bring some joy to retailers,” he added.

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