First two months of 2018 saw lowest spending levels since 2012

Written by Oliver Wade

For the first two months of 2018, consumer spending saw the strongest reduction for the opening of a year since 2012, a trend that is looking likely to continue going forward, according to Visa’s UK Consumer Spending Index.

Moneyhub CEO Samantha Seaton commented: “It’s a tricky time for household finances, and despite an increase in the national minimum wage providing some respite for consumers, high inflation and low wage growth still have a tight grip on purse strings. With interest rates set to rise in May, it’s unlikely spending will truly pick up for a while.”

Overall, Q1 of 2018 experienced the worst quarterly performance since Q4 2012, with year-on-year spending declining by 1.4%.

Visa chief commercial officer Mark Antipof has stated that, largely, the reduction in spending was a result of the ‘Beast from the East’, but it doesn’t “entirely” explain March’s “lacklustre” consumer spending. Antipof claimed that the UK is in the “midst of a dip in consumer confidence”.

“High street sales suffered once again, however it is also noteworthy that e-commerce spend fell for the first time in 10 months, and by its fastest rate since 2012. That said, it is too early to read a great deal into this year-on-year decline, which should be viewed in the context of high growth rates in early 2017,” Antipof said.

The reduction of spending that we are experiencing will impact many businesses across all sectors, affecting the rate at which they can grow. As a measure to combat this, Seaton stated that it is “vital” for businesses to retain their consumer base, keeping them loyal and engaged.

“Using a platform which offers a hyper-personalised service and nudges customers into smart spending decisions is one way that that retailers can look to survive and even thrive in the current climate,” Seaton concluded.

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