With consumers feeling the pinch, UK spending levels have been going through a rough patch of late. The falling value of the pound has made imports more expensive, while the uncertainty caused by the Brexit vote has left shoppers less likely to spend money.
Our UK Spend Index lays this bare. Retail (-28%), fashion (-31%) and grocery (-10%) all saw significant quarterly falls at the start of this year.
But, looking at the bigger picture, overall spending remained steady, edging up 3% year-over-year. Our data shows that we have two areas to thank for this: eating out and holidays.
Eating out continues its relentless rise (the BBC has covered our data on this before, here). Though down slightly on the quarter, quick service restaurant (QSR) spending leapt by 18% year-over-year, while general restaurants were up 8%.
There were also signs of a Great British getaway. Airline spending saw an unprecedented spike as Brits rushed to book holidays (58% year-over-year, 8% on the quarter). There were suggestions of an increase in domestic breaks too, with hotels up 9% year-over-year and 10% on the quarter, and petrol down 1% on the year, but up 14% quarterly.
While brands will need to work hard across the board to attract new customers and keep existing ones, particularly with further uncertainty in the UK ahead, some sectors are seeing a bit of relief.
We shared these insights with the top restaurant and travel trades. Check out the coverage in MCA and Travel Weekly.