Consumer spending weak even with Christmas a month away

Ben Southwood
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SPENDING fell slightly going into the second half of November, data revealed yesterday, despite the proximity to Christmas.

Spending was down 0.8 per cent in the four weeks to 19 November, figures from Visa revealed, despite a 1.2 per cent increase going into the last week of that period.

This meant spending was some 3.7 per cent lower than the same period during 2011, the credit card firm said.

“Data from Visa’s weekly Christmas spending tracker indicates that consumer spend in the UK is flat, meaning that retailers online and on the high street are going to have to work hard to extract the same level of spending as last year,” said Visa commercial director Dr. Steve Perry.

He said that “hard-pressed consumers” were waiting and seeking out the best deals to get the biggest bang for their bucks, and thus predicted a record number of shoppers on so-called Mega Monday, on 3 December.

Visa yesterday predicted that on 3 December £320m will be spent online with its cards – which typically make up about a third of total consumer spending – as retailers aggressively discount products to pull in so-far-reluctant shoppers.