Barclaycard data confirms spending on essential items has increased by 14.4 %, the highest uplift in more than two years, while spending on non-essential items grew by 12.9 % this month.
Raheel Ahmed, Head of Consumer Products for Barclays, said: “The return of pupils and workers to schools and offices helped many sectors to see strong uplifts in September. Pubs, bars & clubs and the entertainment industry benefitted from post-work socialising”
Lack of confidence
The report, by the Barclays Market and Customer Insights team and based on almost half the nations card transactions, shows despite this increase, the number of consumers who felt confident in availability of non-essential items in shops fell by 4 percentage points this month, from 63 % to 59 %, indicating inflation may be having an impact on the way people are shopping.
A current shortage of HGV drivers is also making it more challenging for consumers to source some essentials in supermarkets and grocery stores with 46 % reporting seeing empty spaces on the shelves, while 18 % have found it harder than usual to find fresh fruit and vegetables.
Some consumers are already seeking out value as discount stores saw a 29.3 % uplift compared to 2019 while a further 56 % of Brits suggest if energy prices rise sharply alongside the rising cost of everyday items, it will make it harder for them to spend money on essential items.
Considerable growth for some sectors
Optimism about the economy has also fallen to 31 % this month, in comparison to 37 % in August with 90 % of Brits concerned about their household finances.
Ahmed said: “Consumers are, however, starting to feel the impact of rising prices on their personal finances, which is also hampering confidence levels. While this is causing some Brits to seek out value in their purchases, as the festive season approaches, we expect spending to gradually gather pace as shoppers start buying gifts and preparing for gatherings with loved ones.”
However, many sectors, including hospitality, saw considerable growth in September, with home improvements up 24.1 % and department stores, pharmacy, health and beauty retailers rising 3.6 % and 17.5 % respectively, the sharpest increases for both categories since May 2021.
Supermarket shopping alongside a surge in demand for petrol and climbing prices have also caused the sharpest growth in fuel spending, 11.1%, over 24 months.
Though still in decline, travel agents (down 45.4 %) and airlines (down 49.5 %), also saw improvements during September (compared to a decrease of 53.3 % and 53.0 % in August) as holidaymakers were finally allowed to squeeze in their last trips of the summer.