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Consumer spending falls 13.8% in February

New data revealed that spending on essential items grew 5.3% which was boosted by food and drink specialist stores – including butchers, greengrocers, fresh food box and meal-kit services

Consumer spending fell 13.8% year-on-year in February as lockdown restrictions continued, yet some sectors were able to bounce back, according to data from Barclaycard.

The data revealed that spending on essential items grew 5.3% which was boosted by food and drink specialist stores – including butchers, greengrocers, fresh food box and meal-kit services.

Supermarket expenditure was up 17.4% overall, with online grocery spend surging 115.2% as many Brits continued to show a reliance on home deliveries for food shopping.

Online retailers continued to see strong growth, with online sales accounting for 53.7% of all retail spend in February.

Spending at online general retailers, such as online marketplaces and catalogue shops increased 100%, while online specialist retailers – including florists and jewellery stores – saw 95.9% growth.

However, fuel spending declined 30.2%, as travel restrictions and working from home kept commuters off the roads.

As much of the high-street remained closed, the data showed that spending on non-essential items declined 22% year-on-year. The hospitality and leisure sector also had another challenging month, with overall spend down 68.9% compared with February 2020.

Within this category, pubs and bars saw a 95.7% decline, while spending at restaurants fell 84.6%.

Spending at discount stores saw a 32.3% increase, as over half (56%) of Brits relayed that they have become “more careful to seek out value” in the purchases they make.

Home improvement and DIY spend saw a 10.3% increase as nearly a third (32%) of consumers said they are “looking forward to spring cleaning” and “sprucing up” their homes.

Raheel Ahmed, head of consumer products, said: “As we all spend more time at home, we’ve seen home subscription services, fresh food boxes and meal-kit services become a popular mainstay of life in lockdown.

“The start of Spring, the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown, the vaccine roll-out and the extension to the stamp duty holiday are contributing to a lift in the nation’s spirits.”

He added: “With consumers generally feeling more optimistic, there is a strong indication of a more prosperous period to come as the long-awaited recovery and life after lockdown begins.”

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