October spending declines at fastest rate in four years, driven by poor performance on the high street

Mark Antipof, Chief Officer - Commercial at Visa, commented:

“The pre-Christmas trading season got off to a poor start for retailers with October spending falling at the fastest rate in over four years. The figures are a stark indicator of the strain on household budgets even before the Bank of England’s recent interest rate rise.

“Clothing retailers were the worst hit, suffering from the fastest drop in spending since the Index started in 2009. The unseasonably warm weather didn’t help, but the sector has been struggling to increase sales since the beginning of this year. This is reflected more broadly in the high street performance, with spending falling for the sixth month in a row. In contrast, e-commerce continued its upward growth trend as consumers moved even more of their shopping online.

“We’ve seen another steady month for the hospitality sector. Hotels, restaurants and bars reported a healthy increase in spending, boosted perhaps by families making the most of the half term break, Halloween and early Christmas bookings.

“Retailers will now be pinning their hopes on strong performance around Black Friday and Cyber Monday. November’s data will therefore provide the first real clue on how Christmas is shaping up.”

Annabel Fiddes, Principal Economist at IHS Markit, said:

“UK Consumer spending declined at the quickest pace for over four years in October, with the latest Visa UK CSI data pointing to a -2.0% decline in expenditure compared to a year ago.

“Looking at more detailed figures, the high street remained a key source of weakness, and recorded the second-steepest drop in expenditure since April 2012, falling by -5.0% on the year.

“At the broad sector level, spending on Clothing & Footwear fell at the quickest rate on record (-9.0% year-on-year), with relatively mild weather in October likely weighing on the performance of the sector. Many other key areas of spend also saw reduced expenditure at the start of the fourth quarter, such as Food & Drink (-2.0%) and Transport & Communication (-6.9%). Even Recreation & Culture - which has generally recorded robust growth over the past few years - noted lower spending, with the rate of decline the strongest since March 2011.

“The data add to evidence that falling real wages, muted consumer confidence and lingering uncertainties over the direction of the UK economy are having a substantial impact on spending.”

Visa Inc. (NYSE:V) is a global payments technology company that connects consumers, businesses, financial institutions, and governments in more than 200 countries and territories to fast, secure and reliable electronic payments.

We operate one of the world’s most advanced processing networks — VisaNet — that is capable of handling more than 65,000 transaction messages a second, with fraud protection for consumers and assured payment for merchants. Visa is not a bank and does not issue cards, extend credit or set rates and fees for consumers. Visa’s innovations, however, enable its financial institution customers to offer consumers more choices: pay now with debit, pay ahead with prepaid or pay later with credit products. 

For more information, visit our website (www.visaeurope.com), the Visa

Vision blog (www.vision.visaeurope.com), and @VisainEurope

IHS Markit (Nasdaq: INFO) is a world leader in critical information, analytics and expertise to forge solutions for the major industries and markets that drive economies worldwide. The company delivers next-generation information, analytics and solutions to customers in business, finance and government, improving their operational efficiency and providing deep insights that lead to well-informed, confident decisions. IHS Markit has more than 50,000 key business and government customers, including 85 percent of the Fortune Global 500 and the world’s leading financial institutions. Headquartered in London, IHS Markit is committed to sustainable, profitable growth.

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