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Consumer-led recovery has arrived, according to Barclaycard, though online grows more slowly than before

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The “consumer-led recovery has arrived”, according to a new analysis of retail spending that saw fast growth in store spending in July, although online grew less robustly than in previous months.

The recent heatwave, coupled with celebrations around the birth of Prince George, are thought to have drawn shoppers to the high street in July, sending total retail spending up by 4.8%, according to figures from Barclaycard. But online spending was significantly weaker than the trend, growing by just 8.5% compared to the same time last year.


In June, online spending grew by 12.5% and, says Barclaycard, July was only the third month in the past 19 that ecommerce growth hit only single figures.

That seems to confirm suggestions earlier this month from the BRC that online spending suffered as store spending grew.

But the overall rise in spending was greeted warmly by Barclaycard chief executive Val Soranno Keating. “The UK’s economic recovery truly gained pace in July,” she said, “when, for the first time in three years, consumer spending exceeded the rate of inflation for four months in a row, showing that the long-awaited consumer-led recovery has arrived. It’s an undeniable vote of confidence in the future by British shoppers and shows that they’re finally shaking off the longest period of austerity in a generation and are more readily parting with their money.

“Whilst spending was inevitably boosted by a July ‘feel-good factor’, there are good reasons to believe that this trend will continue into the second half of the year, with consumer spend staying strong and retailers reaping the benefits.”

But if online growth was weaker than previous months, ecommerce still continued to expand its share of consumer spending. Some 20.4% of total retail spending was spent online, up by 0.7% compared to the same time last year when that figure was 19.7%.

Categories that fared particularly well included online women’s clothing, up by 44% on the year. Department stores did better online, with spending up by 20%, while online cinema and theatre spending grew by 14% on last July.

In store, garden centre transactions grew by 17.7%, pubs by 10.8%, women’s clothing by 9.6%, and restaurants by 9.5%. But the losers were furniture stores, where transaction levels fell by 5.7%, electronics stores, down by 3.9%, and department stores, down by 0.4%.

The Barclaycard spending data was drawn from transactions from its UK credit card business, payment acceptance business and spending on Barclays debit cards. It processes nearly half of all card transactions in the UK and in June it processed payments worth £124bn.

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