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UK consumer spending went online in a month marked by storms

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Consumer spending moved onto the internet during October, a month dominated by stormy and wet weather, according to new figures.

Barclaycard’s analysis of transactions made using its payment cards and retail systems during the month found that online spending grew by 8.7% over the period, compared to the same time last year, while store spending rose by only 0.3%. Overall consumer spending grew by 1.9%. Online’s share of overall spending grew to 20.6% in October, from 19.3% last year.

Barclaycard, which processes nearly half of credit and debit card transactions in the UK, thinks consumers are also taking a “cautious approach to managing their finances” and saving up ahead of Christmas, in the first month since March where spending growth was below the rate of inflation.

Analysis also showed average transaction values down by 3.7% in October, but the number of transactions up by 6%, as shoppers bought little and often.

Val Soranno Keating, chief executive of Barclaycard, said October’s slowdown in spending was more likely a blip than a trend. “With mortgage approvals runnig at record rates and Christmas just around the corner, consumers may just be more discerning when it comes to spending their hard-earned money.

“The continuing absence of wage inflation, coupled with consumers’ unwillingness to use their savings to fun purchases, is another possible reason for the slowdown.

“The wetter weather at the end of October is also likely to have contributed to people staying at home rather than venturing out onto the high street and where consumers are spending they continue to look for value.”

Sectors enjoying growth across the market included DIY, where transactions rose by 10.2%, and electronics, up by 8.5%.

Online spending on women’s clothing grew by 40.9%, furniture by 34.4%, DIY by 24.2%, electronics by 19.1% and family clothing by 18.6%.

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