UK consumer spending helped by back-to-school fashion buys says Visa

The back-to-school season provided a big boost for UK consumer spending on clothing and footwear during August. And despite this year and having seen a succession of retail bad news stories, the latest Visa Consumer Spending Index actually showed that August was the fourth successive month in which fashion and footwear sales increased.

Back-to-school was key for UK fashion spend last month

The performance in the sector helped to push overall household spending up ever so slightly – it rose by only 0.4% year-on-year last month – but at least that was better than the almost-1% fall that we saw in July. 

And it was interesting that Visa said spending growth in stores actually managed to beat the growth seen online. Store-based spend last month rose 0.3% year-on-year after a 1.2% fall in July while e-tail spending actually dropped 0.2%, although again, that was an improvement on the 0.5% July dip. 

The increased spend in physical locations could have been caused by several factors. Firstly, spending increased in the restaurants & bars category and that's something that has to be done face-to-face. But the fact that back-to-school spending was also buoyant suggests that this is one activity that consumers prefer to do in physical shops. That’s especially so with the kids at home and able to take parts in shopping trips (or maybe parents just wanted to get away from the kids and go shopping.)

Mark Antipof, chief commercial officer at Visa, said: “In a welcome contrast to the prior month, August’s consumer spending was buoyed by face-to-face purchases with back-to-school spending among parents likely contributing to a glimmer of hope for our high streets. The prolonged good weather has seen sustained performance for hotels, restaurants and bars [with] food and drink again topping the sector categories.

“Despite the increasing pressure on household budgets, bricks & mortar retailers will take encouragement that face-to-face spending rose at a faster rate than e-commerce. Since Visa’s Consumer Spending Index first launched, one of the overarching trends has been the dominance of e-commerce over face-to-face spending. This is certainly an area to watch as we move towards to big shopping events such as Halloween and Christmas.”

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