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December rounds up strongest quarter for consumer spend since 2014

09/01/2017

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Kevin Jenkins, UK & Ireland Managing Director at Visa commented:

Consumer spending continued to increase solidly in the run up to Christmas, rounding off the fastest growing quarter for two years. Average year-on-year growth for each month in Q4 2016 was 2.8%, twice as high as the average rates for Q2 and Q3.

Online retailers enjoyed strong sales over the whole Christmas period, while bricks and mortar retailers saw an improvement, after a disappointing dip in November, as consumers made a last minute dash for gifts on the high street.

Growth was once again led by the experience sector, with consumers going to Christmas markets, travelling to visit loved ones, or venturing to various parts of the country to celebrate. Food was, unsurprisingly, another sector which performed well, with spend up 2.9%. Spend on clothing and household goods, however, fell in December following a Black Friday boost in the previous month.

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:

We had an excellent December in terms of revenue growth. The mild weather coupled with the fact that Christmas Day and New Year’s both fell on Sundays, gave our customers more opportunities to host parties at our pubs throughout the festive period. The year end is a crucial time for us, as revenue can be double that of an average month, so we were pleased to find people treating themselves to more extravagant dinner options.

Gayle Haddock, Carry me home (Children’s Clothes), London:

The first two weeks of December were quite busy for us with lots of online orders coming in. But now that our business has moved online we’ve noticed that customers started to grow more concerned about having their gifts arrive ahead of the 25th. As this was our first year as an online only business it was a bit harder for us to know what to expect, but overall sales remained steady and we noticed a good number of customers using our gifting services.

Imogen Hawthorne, Paisley Immy Cakes, Birmingham

We had good level of sales in the run up to Christmas, with many repeat customers coming to us with their last minute requests for cakes and treats. The orders that we’ve had have been more extravagant with customers treating themselves to generous portions over the Christmas period. Overall it has been a good year for us and we look forward to an even better 2017.