LONDON (Reuters) – British consumer spending ticked up last month at a rate that greatly lagged behind inflation, according to surveys on Tuesday that underscored the pressure on household budgets ahead of the Christmas holidays.
Barclaycard said spending on its credit and debit cards rose 3.9% year-on-year in November, far behind the annual 11.1% increase in consumer prices in October that was the highest reading in 41 years.
Some 94% of Britons surveyed by Barclaycard said they were concerned about the impact of soaring household energy bills on their personal finances.
“Cut-backs are affecting non-essential spending on clothing, department stores and restaurants. Many Brits intend to reduce festive spending on presents and parties in an effort to save money,” said Esme Harwood, director at Barclaycard.
Separate data from the British Retail Consortium (BRC), covering spending in shops only, showed a 4.2% annual increase in sales after a 1.6% increase in October, driven by expenditure on food.
“Sales picked up as Black Friday discounting marked the beginning of the festive shopping season. However, sales growth remained far below current inflation, suggesting volumes continued to be down on last year,” said BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson.
Last month Tesco, Britain’s biggest supermarket group, said Britain’s worsening cost-of-living crunch has led to a sharp rise in the number of shoppers looking for “reduced to clear” food.
(Reporting by Andy Bruce. Editing by Andrew MacAskill)