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Sporting events, sunshine and staycations boost UK consumer spending in June

·3-min read
England captain Harry Kane consoles teenage midfielder Bukayo Saka after their loss in the UEFA Euro 2020 final football match to Italy at the Wembley Stadium in London on Sunday. Photo: Laurence Griffiths/Pool/ AFP via Getty
England captain Harry Kane consoles teenage midfielder Bukayo Saka after their loss in the UEFA Euro 2020 final football match to Italy at the Wembley Stadium in London on Sunday. Photo: Laurence Griffiths/Pool/ AFP via Getty

Sporting events and warmer weather, easing of restrictions and major sporting events saw more Brits socialise and set off on staycations.

New figures from from Barclaycard showed spending on essential items grew 14.7% – the sharpest rise since before the start of the pandemic in March 2020. 

This was driven by strong uplifts in supermarket shopping (19%) and spending at specialist food and drink stores (76.4%).

Non-essential items rose 9.4%, the biggest growth in non-essential spend since the onset of COVID. This was boosted by the eating and drinking category, which grew 36.7% compared with the same period in 2019, while also representing a strong month-on-month uplift, up 2.5% in May 2021.

Meanwhile, spending at bars and pubs grew for the first time since September last year, rising 38% as the nation flocked to pubs and beer gardens to watch key sporting events on the big screens. 

"June saw Brits flock back to pubs, bars and beer gardens to watch the football and tennis on the big screens, as the heatwave early in the month encouraged many of us to get out in the sunshine and socialise," said Raheel Ahmed, head of consumer products at Barclaycard.

Growth in those categories will likely continue, as over two fifths (41%) of Brits say they will spend more as fixtures take place over the next few weeks, including the Tokyo Olympics. 

Fuel spend also rose 3.6% — the first growth since the onset of the pandemic— as Brits took to the roads to visit loved ones and take holidays in the UK.

Read more: UK enjoys COVID recession wealth boom as savings rise by £200bn

Similarly takeaways and fast food remained in high demand, recording a 146% surge in online spend, including food delivery apps and services.

Restaurants also showed early signs of recovery, experiencing a relatively low fall in growth, down 8.4% when compared to the 74% and 53% declines recorded in April and May. 

Face-to-face retail grew 9.7%, there were signs that pent-up demand is easing off as clothing and furniture stores recorded smaller increases than in May. 

While there are glimmers of hope for Britain's travel industry, with the hotels, resorts growing for the first time (5.4%) since pre-pandemic times, fears remain overseas travel, as the traffic light system restrictions continue to impact travel agents and airlines, which decreased 75% and 71% respectively.

Entertainment, including cinemas, bowling alleys and golf courses, also showed signs of recovery as leisure venues opened, declining just 1.7%, compared to a 28.6% drop last month. According to the data consumers aged 65 and over have been driving this improvement, with their spending increasing 4.7% compared to 2019.

It comes as a separate by the Resolution Foundation showed most Brits got wealthier during the COVID-19 pandemic, new research shows, boosted by increased savings and surging house prices.

Brits saw the first increase in wealth levels during a recession in 70 years despite the biggest economic contraction in over 300 years, the Resolution Foundation said.

Household debts excluding credit cards have fallen by around £10bn ($14bn) since February 2020, while average house prices rose 8% thanks to a stamp duty holiday. Total savings rose by £200bn as Brits reduced spending but saw incomes protected by furlough.

Watch: Should I pay off debt or save money during the coronavirus pandemic?

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