Consumer spending grew by 16% in November as early festive pursuits boosted retail, hospitality and leisure, according to the latest Barclaycard report.
Spending on non-essential items saw its highest increase since before the pandemic at 17.7%.
Meanwhile, spending on essential items rose by 12.5%, which was slightly less than in October (13.2%), as spending at supermarkets (13%) and specialist food and drink stores (64.7%) recorded marginally smaller month-on-month increases.
Clothing also recorded its largest uplift (11%) since before the start of the pandemic as shoppers stocked up on warmer items for winter.
In addition, ”specialist retailers” such as gift shops, toy shops and jewellers, recorded a ”sizeable” increase of 21.1% when compared with 2019.
Other categories to benefit included sports and outdoor retailers (28.8%), as well as pharmacy, health and beauty (16.5%).
Jose Carvalho, head of consumer products, said: “The arrival of Christmas markets and lights across the UK brought some festive cheer to the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors in November.
“As we head into final preparations for the holiday season, it’s unclear how the new Covid variant and potential further restrictions will impact socialising, shopping and consumer confidence.”
He added: “In light of recent changes, we will need to wait and see whether this has an impact on how Brits choose to finish their Christmas shopping this year.”