Data from the bank, which processes almost half of the nation’s credit and debit card transactions, shows that spending in pubs outstripped overall national spending, which grew 4% year on year. The amount of money spent in pubs also grew more than in restaurants, which rose 11.4%, and for theatre and concert tickets, which is up 10.8%.
Further data shows that day-to-day spending on necessities such as groceries and petrol climbed 6.1% in February, which represents the highest growth since Barclaycard started reporting on consumer spending in 2012.
But the rises in spending have been credited to price increases, which continued to drive uplifts in ‘essential’ spending, Barclaycard explains.
It believes spending on the ‘experience economy’ suggests shoppers ‘chose to forego physical goods in favour of leisure activities’.
Barclaycard managing director Paul Lockstone said: “Consumer spending remained strong in February, but the picture isn’t wholly positive.
“Rising prices were responsible, at least in part, for the highest growth in spend on essentials in almost five years, with the phenomenon of ‘shrinkflation’, where people get less product for their money, also prompting consumers to row back on some areas of discretionary spending.
“Despite this, and continuing underlying concerns about the economy, we saw a small, yet welcome, uplift in the number of consumers confident in their household finances, which meant they continued spending on the ‘experience economy’, with entertainment and leisure particularly robust.”
Yet concerns around the wider economic picture are still evident, according to Barclaycard, as 41% of consumers say that uncertainty around the imminent triggering of Article 50, which will lead towards a British exit from Europe, is ‘undermining their confidence in the UK economy’.
Concerns about inflation may also be leading to a record majority of consumers, 69%, saying they are now ‘careful to seek out value for money when making purchasing decisions’.