Consumer spending hits lowest level since 2012

Oxford Street Xmas lights

United Kingdom consumers curbed their spending for the first time in five years in 2017 as surging inflation and falling real wages took their toll on high street retailers.

He added: "Christmas rounded off a lean year for retailers with consumer spending seeing its first consistent 12 month decline since 2012".

Although face-to-face spending declined at the softest rate in four months at 2.7 per cent, online spending growth also slowed to two per cent from 2.4 per cent in November, exposing the recent weaker rate of expansion in that channel.

December rounded off the worst year for consumer spending across the United Kingdom since 2012, data by Visa has revealed.


"Despite some large retailers signalling a strong Christmas performance, it is clear that the high street has suffered recently", said Mark Antipof, chief commercial officer at Visa. Spending on transport and communication fell by 4.4 per cent, while spending on household goods slipped 3.4 per cent. Clothing and footwear expenditure was down 2.4 per cent and consumers spent 1.8 per cent less in the "research and culture" category. High Street spending was particularly weak, but e-commerce remained on an upward trajectory, up 2% in December.

Annabel Fiddes, principal economist at IHS Market, said that even though inflationary pressures caused by the fall in the value of the pound since the Brexit vote...

"The sustained drop in expenditure comes at a time when household purchasing power is being continually eroded by rising living costs and relatively subdued growth in pay packets". It's unlikely to recover this year, the credit card company said.

However, consumers' growing appetite to spend money on leisure activities as opposed to physical items saw expenditure in hotels, restaurants and bars rise by 4.7 per cent, on top of a 4.1 per cent rise in 2016.

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