UK Spending Insights: “Experience” Buying Drives UK Consumer Spend

October 31, 2017 Posted by - President of International Operations

Tracking the level of consumer spending has become an important health check on the UK economy. All eyes are on how the surge in inflation and other economic factors are impacting the wallets and, in turn, growth.

Lately, five-year high inflation combined with lagging wage growth has consumers feeling the pinch.

Our latest UK Spend Index, which tracked the spend of nearly four million people across Q3, echoes that sentiment.

While spending grew 3% annually, this was set against the 6% year-on-year increase seen in the previous quarter. Growth is clearly slowing.

There are signs of positivity elsewhere, though.

While spending growth may be slowing, our data suggests that consumers are merely becoming more selective.

Indeed, spending in ‘experience’ sectors such as dining and travel remained intact.  

In particular, spend on quick-service restaurants grew 5% since the previous quarter, and saw a 21% year-on-year increase.

Moreover, Britain has truly become a nation of food lovers: spending on eating out has taken a firmer foothold in people’s wallets than ever before, with the share of spend for restaurants overall increasing the most since we started tracking consumer spend. 

We are also seeing signs of strength when it comes to airlines (+9%), hotels (+6%) and travel (+6%).

It is clear that consumers are willing to spend in categories that can create shareable, memorable experiences. As we move into the holiday season this data suggests that travel gifts may be prevalent this year.  

Ahead of the holiday shopping season, this is an important trend for brands to consider as they develop their marketing strategies.