British consumers are spending more on meals, but the average amount they spend per meal is lower, according to a new report.
The latest Barclaycard Consumer Spending Report found a 17% growth in spending in restaurants in Q1 (28 December 2014 to 28 March 2015), year-on-year, with almost a quarter of British consumers (24%) saying they plan to visit more restaurants in the next three months.
Restaurants also saw the biggest percentage point increase in spending compared to personal electronics (up 6.6%) and entertainment (up 11.9%). However, average transaction values are down by 5.4% year-on-year, suggesting that consumers are visiting more restaurants, but spending less each time.
The report asked a representative sample of 2,000 UK consumers by age, gender, region, income group, professional status and family situation.
It found that consumers are also most likely to eat out in a pub – two fifths (40%) eat out in pubs at least once a month ‒ but fine dining is still quite a rare event, with over one third saying that they never eat in such establishments (36%).
Overall, consumer spending has grown 3.8% year-on-year, with eating out one of the “non-essential items” to have grown the most. Region-wise, London has seen the highest year-on-year general spending growth (4.9%), closely followed by the North West (4.1%) and West Midlands (3.6%).
The rise in confidence was largely attributed to low inflation, falling commodity prices, and people feeling more secure in their job security (52% up from 47% at the end of 2014).
Britons are now also feeling more positive about the economy in general, with almost half (45%) saying they feel positive about the UK’s economic outlook, up from 38% at the end of 2014. Almost a quarter (24%) of consumers said that they “have been cautious for a long time” and wanted to “treat themselves for a change”.
This is tempered by worries about the upcoming General Election, with 56% of consumers saying that they are concerned about its potential impact on their personal and household finances.
Chris Wood, managing director at Barclaycard, said: “Confidence in economic conditions is empowering consumers to begin to spend again on life’s little luxuries. As a result, in the first quarter of the year we see a significant uplift in consumer spending on dining out and electronic goods.
“Despite some caution around the upcoming General Election, this looks set to continue… households are already planning more days out together as the summer approaches. This is an encouraging start to 2015 for consumers and retailers alike.”