Britons splash out over bank holiday weekend as card use hits 21-month high

Britons used their payment cards more last weekend than at any point since Christmas 2019, before the pandemic struck, according to new data.

Barclaycard, which processes £1 in every £3 spent on debit and credit cards in the UK, said that the number of transactions was 14.4% higher this bank holiday weekend than the same time last year.

It was even 9.4% higher than the same weekend in 2019, the payments provider said.

On both Saturday and Sunday Barclaycard said it processed more transactions than on any other date since Christmas Eve 2019.

“We haven’t seen transaction volumes like these since Christmas 2019, the last major shopping milestone before the pandemic,” said Barclaycard Payments chief executive Rob Cameron.

“This is hopefully a sign of more positive times to come, and a testament to the strength and resilience of British businesses when it comes to adapting and thriving in a post-lockdown world.”

Leisure and entertainment businesses were given a particular boost. Transaction volumes rose 37.2% compared with the August bank holiday in 2020, and 26.8% compared with the same period in 2019.

The food and drinks sector also saw a 20.3% rise compared with last year and 14.5% compared with 2019.

“The sectors where we’ve witnessed particularly strong growth – leisure and entertainment, and food and drink – demonstrate that consumers certainly haven’t lost their appetite for a celebration,” Mr Cameron said.

The economy has been opening up in recent months, with activity returning and in some cases exceeding its pre-pandemic levels.

In April England’s third lockdown started to ease, with some restrictions being lifted to allow outdoor serving in pubs. After a phased reopening all restrictions were lifted in July.