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UK Consumer Spending, Confidence Climbs In January

UK consumer spending grew strongly at the start of the year and consumer confidence hit its highest level in more than three years, survey data from Barclaycard showed Tuesday.

Consumer spending grew 3.9 percent year-on-year in January, led by a 4.3 percent increase in fuel spending and a 3.7 percent climb in supermarket sales.

Spending on non-essentials grew 4 percent with expenditure at health and beauty stories rising 5.9 percent. Entertainment spending grew 6.8 percent, driven by a 22 percent jump in cinema spend as crowds flocked to see the movie 1917.

Holiday pursuits saw a 4.2 percent and 3.2 percent increase in spending at travel agents and airlines, respectively.

Meanwhile, the chilly weather led to a fall in spending in restaurants for a third straight month, down 3.5 percent. In contrast, take away expenditure grew 11.4 percent. Sales of clothing and electronics also declined.

The survey found that 42 percent consumers were upbeat about the country's economic prospects, the most positive figures reported since September 2016, and 74 percent also felt confident about their household finances, the highest seen since February 2019.

That said, 51 percent of UK adults believe the pace of economic growth could decline in the next few months and 56 percent said they have become more conscious of their personal impact on the environment and consequently intend to change their behavior.

Further, a third of shoppers also plan to reduce their purchases of plastics. Spending at discount stores grew 9.5 percent in January.

The consumer spending data is for the period from December 23, 2019 to January 24, 2020 and the consumer confidence survey was carried out between January 24 and 27 by Longitude Research on behalf of Barclaycard among 2,004 respondents.

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