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Online spending grows at fastest rate for 16 months as the experience economy powers ahead


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Kevin Jenkins, UK & Ireland Managing Director Visa Europe said:

“Growth in consumables remains evident, but consumer spending is increasingly focused on the experience economy. Eating out, booking holidays and discovering new experiences are all driving spending growth at a time when the lower cost of living is creating higher disposable incomes. In a month of mostly growth, the only sector to disappoint was clothing and footwear, again highlighting this shift.

“A very strong month for online sellers suggests much of the experience economy is being driven by pre-booking of activities online. While online prospered, face-to-face spending was relatively flat, highlighting the current discussion about the future shape of the high street as well.

“Eyes will now be on May, with a sunny start to the month providing promise for the high street but also a further fillip for restaurants and hotels looking to capitalise on our desire for experiences.”

What UK businesses are saying:

Visa is tracking the sentiment of several small businesses across the UK on a monthly basis, asking about their views on the economy, business conditions and forecasts for the month ahead.

  • Josh Beer, The Illustrious Pub Company, Cambridgeshire: Easter falling in March coupled with an especially cold and rainy start to the month meant we had a quieter April than expected. With that said, towards the end of the month we started to see an uplift in lunchtime sales, perhaps due to the warmer weather which came with the start of spring. With the new living wage coming into effect, and the start of summer, we expect increased sales in the coming months
  • Gayle Haddock, Carry Me Home children’s clothes, London: April was actually quite a good month for us. The cold weather helped us to sell some winter pieces and drew more customers towards the discounted mid-season sale items. Our Online sales in particular have surged, as more regulars take to our website to quickly get hold of the items they’re after. Social media partnerships with parent and toddler groups and online competitions have also helped to increase our online presence and have allowed us to reach customers further afield.
  • Quan Nguyen, Chi Cafe, London: Despite the bad weather, we had a rather good month in April. The surprisingly cold and wet start to the month seemed to have prompted people to spend more on comforting meals at lunch time, with our hot spicy noodle soup range doing particularly well. At the same time, we are working on a new summer salad range to entice customers when the weather brightens up. With people increasingly looking for healthy lunch options, we hope our sales will grow steadily over the summer.