In-store shopping remained flat but online spending surged over Christmas

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On the whole, consumer spending has increased by four per cent year-on-year over the festive period, according to recent data from Barclaycard.

Online spending was the clear winner as it recorded its highest growth in three years and predominantly drove the overall growth, accounting for a quarter of total spend (24.6 per cent), a figure that has nearly topped last January’s record of (25.4 per cent). In fact, since April 2012, online spending jumped by 17.9 per cent. A direct consequence of that is that in-store spending remained flat, ‘struggling’ as Barclaycard put it.

The only bright spot of bricks-and-mortar spending were department stores on the high street, with in-store spend growing 4.5 per cent, but even here digital came out on top, as online spend increased 18 per cent, resulting in overall department store growth of 7.2 per cent.

Supermarkets followed a similar script. Despite in-store spend falling 0.7 per cent in December, a boost of 13.5 per cent to online sales meant the category was flat overall year-on-year. Average transaction values at supermarkets fell 4.8 per cent overall as consumers continued to pursue value from their grocery shopping.

December’s online spend growth followed the biggest ever Black Friday, which rocketed 15.1 per cent compared to the same day last year. Furthermore, the average transaction value of online purchases increased by 6.6 per cent as well, suggesting shoppers are becoming more confident about making higher value purchases online. Once again the high street lost out, suffering a 6.7 per cent decrease in spending and a drop of 7.8 per cent in average transaction value. As a consequence, overall spend on Black Friday was down 1.0 per cent versus 2014.

“In many ways, this Christmas brought to the fore all the shopping trends of 2015. The large spikes in spending, centred around sales days like Black Friday, emphasise consumers’ increasing search for value as they hold back their spending until the best deals emerge,” said Chris Wood, chief operating officer at Barclaycard.

“Likewise, whilst online shopping has grown in popularity throughout the year, the strength of consumer preference for digital over the high street was seen in full effect over the Christmas period. As retailers continue to release their Christmas trading updates we expect many to reflect these changing behaviours,” he added.

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