Face-to-face leisure & entertainment spend was up 136% last week, in a positive sign of the pent-up demand for the reopening of hospitality.

The allowance of outdoor gatherings saw Barclaycard Payments recorded a 9% rise in contactless transactions over the past week.

With groups of six people or two households able to meet, overall travel and petrol spend were both up 7%, with friends and family reuniting for the first time in 2021.

However, with ongoing social distancing measures, the total value of transactions across leisure & entertainment was still down 35% compared to the same week two years ago, before the onset of the pandemic.

Rob Cameron, CEO of Barclaycard Payments, said: “This is a strong indication of the pent-up demand for returning to pre-pandemic activities, like seeing friends and family and enjoying outdoor sport. We hope that businesses will maintain this momentum as they approach the next major milestone – the reopening of non-essential retail next week.”