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.
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 continueâ¦ households are already planning more days out together as the summer approaches. This is an encouraging start to 2015 for consumers and retailers alike."