Pubs and restaurants turned in a strong performance in December, according to figures just released by Barclaycard, despite an overall softening in consumer spending and "faltering confidence in the UK economy".
Consumer spending in the final quarter of 2016 hit a four-year high of 4.8% average growth across the period, according to the figures, though December saw spend growth slow to 4%. Barclaycard suggested that "faltering confidence in the UK economy [was] starting to affect consumers' propensity to spend" and that shoppers had started to rein in spending amid concerns over the wider economic picture moving into 2017.
However, both restaurants and pubs saw growth of 11.2% and 10.3% respectively, outstripping growth for the general entertainment sector, which includes cinemas and concerts. General entertainment grew 7.6%, which is its slowest rate of growth since November 2015.
Barclaycard managing director Paul Lockstone said: "2016 saw consumer spending growth sign off with a very strong quarter, but the headline number masks a story of softening spend growth as the year came to an end. While October and November were record months, spending growth slowed a little over the key festive shopping weeks in December. This could be an early indication of things to come as consumers seem to have entered 2017 with more caution, citing worries about inflation and the triggering of Article 50. All eyes will be on whether this year will see households begin to feel squeezed by rising prices, leading to a sustained fall in consumer spending on discretionary items in favour of their day-to-day essentials."