MNI DATA: Worst UK Qtrly Consumer Spending in 5 Years: VISA: MNI

–March VISA Overall Spending -2.1% y/y Vs -1.0% y/y in February

LONDON (MNI) – The UK’s lethargic consumer spending run showed no signs of abating in March, with lacklustre sales growth taking quarterly household outlays to a five-year low, data from Visa revealed Monday.

A pre-cursor to official retail sales data, Visa’s UK Consumer Spending Index pointed to a further slide in household spending in March, with consumers and businesses blighted by the bad weather. Year-on-year, consumer spending was down 2.1%, extending the respective falls seen in January (-1.2% y/y) and February (-1.0% y/y).

That meant that over the quarter, Visa’s measure of consumer spending was down 1.4% when compared to Q1 2017, the worst quarterly performance since Q4 2012.

–EASTER IMPACT

The data, however, is non-seasonally adjusted and given Easter fell entirely in April last year, the associated timing effects will have attributed for a large chunk of the March slide.

The only sectors to register growth in March were food and drink (5.7% y/y) and hotels, restaurants and bars (4.2% y/y), likely boosted by Easter celebrations.

Both face-to-face spending and online spending took a hit in March. Face-to-face sales were down 3.0% y/y in March, following falls of 4.0% and 2.4% in January and February respectively.

–ONLINE SALES FALL

Online sales growth, positive in both January and February, also found room to contract in March, down 1.2% y/y. This was the first fall in 10 months and suggests the weather alone was not to blame for the tapered spending appetites but that confidence remains fragile.

“The negative impact that the ‘Beast from the East’ had on UK economic activity last month has been widely reported, but this doesn’t entirely explain March’s lacklustre consumer spending. We are in the midst of a dip in consumer confidence and this – coupled with other economic factors – is causing shoppers to continue to restrain themselves,” Mark Antipof, Chief Commercial Officer at Visa, said.

Visa’s UK Consumer Spending Index uses card transaction data based on all Visa debit, credit and prepaid cards. According to Visa, such spending accounts for an average 2.3billion transactions every quarter, roughly one pound in every three spent in the UK.

Source: MNI

MONDAY, APRIL 16, 2018 – 01:34

–MNI London Bureau; tel: +44 203-586-2225; email: les.commons@marketnews.com

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