One in four consumers (26%) have been booking post-lockdown activities in March, with 41% of these booking restaurant reservations for meals outdoors, Barclaycard data reveals.

Online takeaways ordering remains popular, with the eating and drinking category recording a 128.5% surge in spend.

Spending on essential items grew 7.7%, bolstered by food and drink specialist stores including fresh food boxes and meal-kit products, which saw a 71.4% uplift.

Entertainment, which includes leisure activities such as family days out, theme parks and gym memberships, saw an improvement in spending, declining 57.9% compared to 83.2% last month.

There was a glimmer of hope for the travel industry, with the 54.3% decline in spending on accommodation an improvement on the respective 75.4% and 70.3% declines seen in January and February, suggesting that holidaymakers have started to book trips for the rest of the year.

Starting this month, all growth calculations have moved to a two-year comparison, to provide a more realistic view of the UK’s long-term recovery from the impact of coronavirus.

Raheel Ahmed, head of consumer products at Barclaycard, said: “With springtime finally here and restrictions starting to ease, it’s encouraging to see a renewed sense of optimism across much of the UK. There are also signs that some of those sectors most heavily impacted by the pandemic, such as hotels, resorts, accommodation and entertainment, are beginning to turn a corner, as many look forward to long-awaited trips and activities with family and friends after lockdown.

“While it remains a very challenging environment for high-street and hospitality outlets, the fact that many consumers are making plans for the future is a positive sign, and we hope to see this pent-up demand lead to growth in more categories as life after lockdown starts to resume.”