Consumer card spending rose by 15.4% in August, compared to the same period in 2019, with growth recorded across all sectors apart from international travel.
New data from Barclaycard, which recorded nearly half of the nation's credit and debit card transactions, found that restaurant spending grew for the first time since the pandemic hit (0.1%), while spending on pubs, bars and clubs reached 43.4%, the highest growth recorded for over 17 months.
With office workers adjusting to new work and lifestyle patterns, this growth looked set to continue. Of those returning to the office after having worked from home during the pandemic, 34% planned to spend more on takeaway breakfast or lunch, and 26% intended to up their spending on socialising after work.
Staycations remained popular throughout August as spending on hotels, resorts and accommodation grew for the third consecutive month, compared to 2019, reaching its highest growth recorded since the onset of Covid-19 (17.5%).
Confidence in the UK economy rose to its highest point (37%) since February 2020 (42%), with 78% of Brits confident in their ability to live within their means each month, and 71% feeling optimistic about their household finances.
However, this optimism could be dampened by concerns about rising prices, as 64% of consumers were worried that everyday items were becoming more expensive, and of those, 42% were already making lifestyle changes as a result.
Over a third (35%) said rising inflation would make them more likely to seek value in the purchases they make, and 30% were concerned about the impact of inflation on the value of their cash savings. These fears led to 37% of Brits making cutbacks to ensure they can afford higher outgoings for Christmas.
Raheel Ahmed, head of consumer products at Barclaycard, said: "Socialising, shopping, and staycations were top of the agenda for Brits in August, as families and friends made the most of the school holidays, giving a welcome boost to hospitality and leisure businesses. Over the coming months, these sectors should also benefit from Brits returning to the office, as colleagues enjoy long overdue catch-ups over post-work meals and drinks."
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