Restaurants continued to perform well with spend up 10.8% in February, despite overall consumer spending during the month being flat, rising just 2%, according to new data from Barclaycard, which processes nearly half of all the UK’s debit and credit transactions.
The company said that positive economic sentiment had failed to translate into higher pay packets, with the 2% year on year increase in consumer spend continuing a trend of muted growth that began in Q3 2013.
Essential spend continues to struggle with supermarket spend down (0.8%), while petrol spend fell sharply both in amount spent (down 6%) and number of transactions (down 2.8%).
The report said that despite a six-year high in consumer confidence and recent falls in unemployment wage growth remains sluggish, and this is directly impacting consumer spending.
While online spending continued to grow, up 8.6% year on year in February, the high street struggled with no spend growth at all in-store.
The average amount spent per transaction continued to come down – falling 3.9% on last year and 5.4%on 2012.
The report said that a legacy of the economic downturn is “shoppers’ consistent search for value and determination to save money on their purchases”.
Wales had a tough February with spend growth of just 0.6%. London fared best up 3%, closely followed by the North East up 2.9%.
Val Soranno Keating, chief executive Barclaycard, said:“The positive noises on the economy and unemployment have yet to drive significant increases in consumer spend. While consumers feel more confident than they have for several years, the upswing in spending growth that we saw in the middle of last year has slowed as pay packets are not matching the performance of the wider economy. Until we see stronger wage growth, spending will likely continue to be muted.”