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Consumer spending drops 36.5% in April, but some retailers continued to see growth as habits change

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Online spending on food, DIY, games consoles and subscriptions see some growth during lockdown, however overall consumer spending has dropped by more than a third, according to Barclaycard data.

The 36.5% drop in retail spending in April was largely driven by the 60% drop in card spending on fuel. Spending on other non-essentials such as transport and sports fell by 47%, while takings in bars, clubs and restaurants is down 96%.

While overall home improvement and DIY declined by 43%, consumers are still taking advantage of lockdown to smarten up their homes and gardens, with online spend in this category up  27%– accounting for 86% of purchases.

Digital subscriptions continued to increase in popularity with strong growth of 50%. Online spend for eating and drinking – which includes takeaways – also saw growth of 25% as diners treated themselves, while also helping to support local restaurants.  

Going local

With commuting and travel not an option – and with supermarkets becoming a living hell – many shoppers are looking more locally for food and drink.

Food and drink specialist stores – which includes off-licences, greengrocers, independent convenience stores, butchers and bakeries – were a bright spot, seeing 38% growth. This was helped by shoppers continuing to support local businesses, with more than half (57%) saying the current climate has made them realise how much they value these stores.

As a result, UK adults are planning to spend more in local retailers including butchers (27%), cafés and restaurants (26%) and farmer’s markets (23%) when restrictions are lifted.

Commenting on the data, Esme Harwood, Director at Barclaycard, says: “It’s been a tough time for retailers as consumer spending has dropped considerably under lockdown. There are some bright spots, though, as Brits have turned their focus online and looked to takeaways, digital subscriptions and DIY to keep entertained and occupied. A renewed sense of community may be welcome news for independent businesses, with a growing desire to support local stores in life after lockdown.”

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