Credit card spending rose six percent in 2021 as online shopping boomed in pandemic

Data from Barclaycard, which sees nearly half of the nation’s credit and debit card transactions, revealed spending on “essential” items rose 11.1 percent in 2021.

This was largely driven by supermarket shopping, which saw an overall growth of 17.4 percent, with online grocery spend surging 97.4 percent.

Shopping online proved popular throughout the year as online retail recorded strong growth of 63.2 percent compared to face-to-face retail spending, which saw a noticeably smaller rise of 0.6 percent, as shoppers continued to shop from digital devices at home and on the move.

The popularity of enjoying experiences at home, or “insperiences”, continued in 2021.

Spending on takeaways and fast food rose 62.0 percent in 2021, as consumers spent more on in-home experiences and nights in.

Jose Carvalho, head of consumer products at Barclaycard, said: “2021 was another challenging year, as the pandemic continued to hamper the UK economy.

“However, categories such as local food retailers, takeaways and digital entertainment continued to do well, thanks to Brits’ demand for convenient, local, and at-home shopping experiences.

“In addition, with more time spent working from home, Brits continued to invest in their households, resulting in strong growth for both DIY and pet stores.”

Credit card spending rose by six percent this year

© Simon Dawson/Bloomberg/Getty Images
Credit card spending rose by six percent this year

Online grocery spending surged by over 97 percent

© Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty Images
Online grocery spending surged by over 97 percent

Homeowners splashed out more on their properties in 2021, with spending on home improvements & DIY, as well as furniture, up 26.2 percent and 19.8 percent respectively.

As they spent more time at home, consumers also added four-legged companions to their households, with spending on vets and pet retailers seeing strong growth relative to 2019 (up 29.1 percent).

Sports and outdoor retailers were another bright spot as the reopening of gyms and golf courses encouraged sports fans to spend more time exercising.

The category rose 21.9 percent overall, with golf clubs having a particularly positive year (up 50.2 percent).

Clothing and pharmacy, health and beauty retailers also saw improvements throughout 2021 – particularly in May, when the categories saw respective rises of 7.6 percent and 17.5 percent, as Brits focused on well-being and invested in sprucing up their appearance for post-lockdown socialising.

Jose Carvalho added: “As we look ahead to 2022, the economy will face fresh challenges from rising household bills, inflation, and uncertainty about the new Covid variant.

“Yet, as we’ve seen over the last two years, consumers and businesses are capable of adapting to and overcoming immense hardship and adversity – the resolve and determination of the British public to succeed is why I’m still optimistic about the year ahead and what it may bring.”