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Consumer spending up 3.0% in November as shoppers get ready for Christmas

Early Christmas shopping helped consumer spending rebound in November, rising 3.0% year-on-year, according to Barclaycard’s monthly analysis of the UK’s spending habits.

Following a muted October, spending was pushed up by growth in retail spending – which posted its best performance of 2013 – as we updated our wardrobes (clothing spend +8.1%), shopped for presents (Department Stores +2.8%) and did work around the house (DIY +8.7%).

Online spending grew to +21% of total spending, up +1.0% on the same time last year. Online retailers have benefitted from shoppers taking to the web to more easily compare prices and the introduction of discounting events such as ‘Black Friday’ – the US phenomenon whereby retailers offer big discounts on the Friday after the Thanksgiving holiday.

‘Black Friday’ in the UK saw spending up +21% year-on-year, driven by a +41% increase in the amount spent online. This growth was led by the electronics sector, up +50% on last year, and department stores, up +20% on last year.

Savvy shopping continued to be a trend throughout November, as shoppers continued to shop little and often, making the most of retailer discounts and pre-Christmas sales. This pushed the number of transactions up +6.5%, but meant the average amount spent per transaction was down -3.3%.

Barclaycard processes nearly half of all credit and debit card transactions in the UK.

Festive shoppers hit the high-street

The milder weather, combined with consumers’ preference for shopping in-store in the run-up to Christmas, resulted in strong in-store spending growth of +1.6% year-on-year.

Consumers updating their winter wardrobes helped Clothing spend rebound in November, posting an impressive +8.1% growth on 2012, the highest level seen this year. Family Clothing was the key driver, growing +11.3% year-on-year, followed by Women’s Clothing (+8.6%).

After staying in the red for 13 consecutive months, department store spend increased +2.8% year-on-year.

Chris Wood, Managing Director, Barclaycard said:

“Consumer spending rebounded in November, growing at a healthy +3.0% on last year, as the Christmas shopping season got off to a good start. The retailing sector evidenced its best performance so far this year as consumers updated their wardrobes and hit department stores looking for presents. Restaurant spend was also strong, but the absence of any blockbuster releases during the month meant that cinema spend, which has generally been strong during 2013, fell sharply.

“We continue to see shoppers searching for value for money by shifting more of their shopping online and waiting for ‘discount days’ such as Black Friday and Mega Monday to save on their shopping. Black Friday this year saw spending up +21% compared to last; Department Stores and Electronics led the way with growth of more than +50%. And we now spend 1 in every 5 pounds online as it grew to 21% of all spending in November.

“While the picture over the course of 2013 has been one of increasing optimism, British consumers have shown remarkable restraint during the economic downturn and they are unlikely to give up the hard-won benefits of their prudence lightly. So with consumers remaining cautious, we expect to see a good - but not great - Christmas shopping season.”

Total spend growth by category

Rising

Falling

Restaurants

+13.3%

Cinema / theatre

-8.3%

Family clothing

+11.3%

Electronic stores

-4.3%

Public transport

+8.7%

Petrol

-2.9%

DIY stores

+8.7%

Supermarket

-0.7%

Women’s clothing

+8.6%

Department stores

+2.8%

November saw the start of the festive party season; with restaurant spend growing strongly, up +13%. Hotels also showed a +5% year-on-year increase.

The continued robust housing market helped to drive spend at DIY stores (+8.7%) and furniture stores (+5.5%). The shift from driving to public transport also continued in November, with public transport spending up +8.7% and petrol spend down (+2.9%), as falling petrol prices failed to induce higher consumer demand.

Electronic stores experienced a slowdown from October (-4.3%), as multiple tablet releases last year, including the iPad Mini, Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire, drove up the year-on-year comparator. Supermarket spend (-0.7%) declined year-on-year for the fourth straight month as higher food inflation (+3.9% in October) continued to squeeze household budgets.

Online vs. offline spend

Online spend share as a proportion of total spend grew to 21%, up +1.0% on the same time last year (19.9%), and most of the categories of online spend were up on 2012.

Growth in online spend

Category

Growth

Women’s clothing

+51.5%

Men’s clothing

+50.6%

Furniture stores

+32.7%

DIY stores

+24.7%

Family clothing

+18.2%

Regional spend

Northern Ireland saw the strongest spend growth (+4.6%) of the 12 UK regions, with even the West Midlands and North East at the bottom of the table seeing growth above inflation.

Growth in regional spend

Region

Growth

Northern Ireland

+4.6%

East of England

+3.4%

London

+3.4%

East Midlands

+3.2%

Scotland

+3.1%

South East

+3.1%

Yorkshire Humber

+3.0%

South West

+2.9%

Wales

+2.7%

North West

+2.7%

North East

+2.6%

West Midlands

+2.6%

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