Wet weather hits the high street, but consumer spending maintains growth at end of Q1

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

“March saw a solid increase in consumer spending, with the leisure and hospitality sectors big winners, perhaps influenced by Mother’s Day and the Easter holiday falling in the same month. Britons made the most of their free time to enjoy family fun, days out and trips away.

"Bad weather looks to have hit demand for Spring and Summer clothing and kept consumers off the high street. Face to face spend dropped nearly 1% as a result, but e-commerce continues to grow strongly with over 4% growth. As we head into Summer, retailers will be keenly awaiting an upturn in the weather, while waiting to see the impact of the living wage on consumer spending.”

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.

  • Tony Bailey, Top Notch Hair & Beauty, Manchester: Despite the bad weather in March, our turnover was up 20% compared to last year. The rain did lead to some cancellations but the customers that were coming through the door treated themselves to more extravagant styles. We’ve been very proactive on social media and have used the internet to showcase the full ability of our team. These channels have helped direct more customer queries our way too.
  • Gayle Haddock, Carry Me Home children’s clothes, London: March is usually a steady month for us and this year was no exception. Even though some of our regulars were away on holiday due to Easter and half term, our new season stock helped bring some familiar faces to our store and increase our online sales too.
  • Quan Nguyen, Chi Cafe, London We saw a slight drop in sales in March, perhaps due to the wet and windy weather which prevented people from going out. Many of our customers were away on holiday during Easter and half term too, although this was offset to an extent by an increase in passing trade from people visiting London. We’re working on a new menu for spring and as the weather gets warmer, we’ll hope next month will be better.”

About Visa Europe

Visa Europe is a payments technology business owned and operated by member banks and other payment service providers from 38 countries.

Visa Europe is at the heart of the payments ecosystem providing the services and infrastructure to enable millions of European consumers, businesses and governments to make electronic payments. Its members are responsible for issuing cards, signing up retailers and deciding cardholder and retailer fees. Visa Europe is also the largest transaction processor in Europe, responsible for processing more than 18 billion transactions annually.

There are more than 500m Visa cards in Europe, while €1 in every €6 spent in Europe is on a Visa card. Total expenditure on Visa cards exceeds €2 trillion annually, with €1.5 trillion spent at point-of-sale.

Visa Europe is an independent business with an exclusive, irrevocable and perpetual licence to use the Visa brand in Europe. Visa Europe works in partnership with Visa Inc. to enable global Visa payments in more than 200 countries and territories.

For more information, visit www.visaeurope.com and @VisaEuropeNews