Widespread take up of online shopping amid Covid-19 lockdowns has lifted consumer spending above pre-pandemic levels, reveal fresh figures released today.
Brits spent 5.9 per cent more in 2021 compared to 2019, according to research from Barclaycard, which cover £1 in every £3 spent on debit and credit cards in the UK.
The upbeat spending figures show demand has held up well despite the severe blow the pandemic has delivered to the UK economy, largely helped by consumers channelling money they would have otherwise spent at businesses that were ordered to close to alternative goods and services.
Large swathes of the British public switched from shopping in person to online while non-essential retailers, pubs and bars were closed during the toughest virus curbs.
Brits ditched their weekly in-person grocery shop and flocked to online providers such as Ocado in their droves, with online supermarket shopping surging 97.4 per cent this compared to 2019.
People likely changed their grocery shopping habits to avoid contracting the virus.
However, the scale of the uptick in online shopping suggests this change in consumer behaviour could be permanent.
Overall, online retail spending accounted for more than half of every £1 spent in the UK this year.
Barclaycard’s data illustrates the rise of in-home experiences over the course of the pandemic, sparked by Brits attempting to recreate socialising amid tight lockdowns.
Spending at artisanal food and drink suppliers and meal-kit providers climbed 74 per cent this year compared to 2019.
Purchases of digital content subscriptions, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney memberships, jumped over 47 per cent as Brits rushed to watch the year’s biggest streaming blockbusters.
White collar workers went big on DIY and home improvement spending in 2021 as they rushed to kit out their home offices after employers across the country switched to home working practices.
Home improvement and DIY spending rose 26.2 per cent.
Despite the strong purchases print, experts pointed to a concoction of red hot inflation, soaring energy and tax bills merging to hit consumer spending next year.
“As we look ahead to 2022, the economy will face fresh challenges from rising household bills, inflation, and uncertainty about the new Covid variant,” Jose Carvalho, head of consumer products at Barclaycard, said.