Predictions that Brits would spend, spend, spend their way out of the pandemic have proved “sound as a pound” but it has been charity shops, dating sites and pet shops which have been the biggest beneficiaries, with general retailers on the high street failing to catch the Covid bounce.
That is according to a new analysis carried out by Nationwide from hundreds of millions of transactions by its customers from April to June, which were compared with the previous quarter.
By far the biggest surge in spending was on holidays, including a huge increase in staycation spending with Brits scrambling for slots at UK campsites and caravan parks.
Spending on eating and drinking also surged to more than £1bn as restrictions on restaurants were lifted.
However, general retailers and department stores continued to be hit by the pandemic, with a massive 91% drop in spending, while there was a 16% increase in spending on charity – dwarfing the spending in department stores.
Charity shops saw a huge spike in spending when they were allowed to reopen on April 12, with the British Heart Foundation alone taking £1m in a single day on that Monday, according to Charity Retail Association chief executive Robin Osterley.
He added: “There was a lot of pent up demand that continued. It’s all part of people thinking: ‘There has to be a better way. We can’t go back to how we were’.”
There was also a huge rise in people looking for romance, as spending on online dating grew. Between April and June people spent £3.8m, a rise of 5% from the previous quarter.
Britons also showed the love to their pets, shelling out £124.5m on gifts, treats and food.
But the biggest growth in essential spending was on public transport and taxis as restrictions eased in the second quarter, followed by motoring and fuel and car charging.
Payment methods continued to evolve, with mobile were up 76%, while contactless card payments grew 46%. Debit cards still dominated, but retailers’ put the kibosh on cash with most reluctant to accept physical money.
Nationwide’s head of payments Mark Nalder said that although the growth in contactless payments meant more convenience for many, he warned that a decline in cash could become a major disadvantage to the millions of people who still rely on it.
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