Online grocery spending up in December as families stayed home for Christmas

PA

Online grocery spending surged in December while fuel spending declined, as many people cancelled their festive plans and had a low-key Christmas, according to a report.

Consumer spending fell by 2.3% year-on-year in December, but online grocery spending surged by 88% as households stocked up on Christmas food, Barclaycard said.

Supermarket spending grew by 14.7% in total annually.

But fuel spending fell by 20.7% annually as many families’ festive plans to visit loved ones were scrapped.

While in-store retail spending fell by 8.3% annually in December, online retail spending increased by 52.2% – accounting for nearly half (46.8%) of all retail spending in December, Barclaycard said.

Specialist retailers, including toy shops, jewellers and gift shops recorded spending growth of 61.9% online.

Spending on specialist food and drink retailers such as butchers’ and bakeries increased by 43.7%.

Consumer research from Barclaycard found that 54% of people agree they will do what they can to support local shops during 2021.

Spending on bricks and mortar department stores was down by 15.2% annually.

The hospitality sector was also hit hard, with steep spending declines at bars and pubs (down by 71.4% annually) and restaurants (a 65.4% decline).

Raheel Ahmed, head of consumer products, said changing coronavirus restrictions continue to have an impact on spending habits – “which was particularly acute across the high street and hospitality sectors in December, with restaurants, pubs and bars hardest hit during a low-key festive season in the majority of the UK”.

He continued: “As a result of further restrictions, online grocery spend surged and fuel declined as the majority cancelled their plans and stayed home for the holidays.

“Additionally, many still continued to support their local shops where possible, spending more time in their local community.

“Small businesses have continued to remain agile to these changing consumer habits – with many going online for the first time. From dog walking services to subscriptions of weekly meal kits, small businesses are exploring new ways to reach their customer base.”

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