Consumer spending down 7.1% in 2020 but some sectors saw growth, research finds

Consumer spending fell by 7.1% year-on-year in 2020 but lifestyle changes during the coronavirus pandemic boosted growth for some sectors, according to analysis.

Support for local high streets remained strong as spending at food and drink specialist stores such as butchers and bakeries saw an uplift, as did digital subscriptions as people were gripped by TV shows at home.

The research, from Barclaycard, found spending on essential items increased by 4.1% year-on-year in 2020.

This was largely driven by supermarket shopping, which saw an overall growth of 15.7%, with online grocery shopping surging by 70.3% as the demand for delivery services increased.

These trends, along with lower prices at the petrol pump, also contributed to a 20.3% decline in spend on fuel.

Specialist food and drink stores – which include butchers and bakeries – experienced an overall spending uplift of 28.6% annually.

Spending on digital subscriptions and electronics recorded growth of 31.5% and 10.8% respectively.

Ordering takeaways online surged 49.1% and there was spending growth of 62.4% on businesses offering services such as meal subscriptions.

Spending on non-essential items contracted 11.3%, as social distancing restrictions impacted high street retailers and the hospitality sector.

Department store spend fell 17.2% and expenditure on clothing contracted by 15.6% annually.

While the Eat Out To Help Out scheme gave restaurants a boost, overall across 2020 spending on this sector fell by 47%, Barclaycard said.

Spending on bars and pubs fell by 36.7%.

The spending figures were based on Barclaycard credit and debit card transactions.