East Anglia: Consumer spending in region up 5% in August, Barclaycard figures show

Andy Wright, eastern region network retail director at Barclays.

Andy Wright, eastern region network retail director at Barclays. - Credit: Archant

Consumer spending in the East of England continued to grow during August, according to the latest monthly analysis of card transactions by Barclaycard.

Spending in the region was up 5% last month compared with August 2012, the third-strongest growth recorded by any of the UK regions and nations.

London continued to top the table, with growth of 6.0%, with Northern Ireland second, with a rise of 5.1%, and the South East and the East Midlands joint fourth, with a 4.6% increase.

Barclaycard, which processes nearly half of all credit and debit card transactions in the UK, said that, across the UK as a whole, the figures represented the country’s best summer since 2006.

Total in-store spending grew 3.3% compared with August last year, the second-biggest monthly increase seen this year, while online spending was 9.9% up.

The leisure and entertainment sector saw the best of the boom, with restaurant spend up 13.3%, cinema and theatre spend up 8.1% and hotel spend up 6.7% compared with August 2012.

However, spending fell on clothing (by 0.6%), groceries (0.1%) and electronics (1.4%), and department store sales were also down (by 0.8%) as households shifted their spending to leisure.

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Airline spend growth also slowed dramatically, increasing by just 2.3% year-on-year compared to double figure growth in February, April, May and July, suggesting that the good weather saw families resisting the urge to book holidays to the sun.

Most categories of online spend remained up on 2012 in August, with online furniture stores spend seeing 35% growth and women’s clothing up 33% on a year-on-year basis.

However, while the overall rate of online growth was a improvement on July’s figure of 8.5%, thought to have beeen affected by the heatwave, it remained short of the levels seen in previous months as warm weather continued drive people towards the high street.

Barclays said August’s strong spending reinforced the view that households are continuing to shake off the economic downturn, a sentiment echoed by recently-published economic data charting a rise in UK consumer confidence.

Andy Wright, network retail director at Barclays in the eastern region, said the increase in spending seen in August, regionally and nationally, continued a trend seen most of this year and further established 2013 as “the year of recovery”.

“The weather has undoubtedly helped,” he said. “It was confirmed last week that we’ve enjoyed one of the warmest summers on record and the UK consumer response has been to hit the high street,”

And he added: “When set alongside the other economic news we’ve seen recently, and with forecasters predicting an above average September weather-wise, we expect this month to be another positive one and for UK plc to end the third quarter on a high.”