A surge in online shopping, pet ownership and streaming subscriptions saw consumer spending in 2021 surpass 2019 levels.


Consumer spending across 2021 rose 5.9% in comparison with 2019, according to Barclaycard.

Covid-19 and its associated restrictions limited where shoppers could spend during the year, which led to online spend surging 88% in March 2021 in comparison with 2019, when it accounted for approximately half of all retail spend.

Spending on essential items rose by 11% during the year overall, bolstered by a 17% jump in supermarket shopping as many hospitality venues remained closed for several months of the year.

This restriction also drove a 62% spike in spending on takeaways and fast food, and a 97% surge in online grocery shopping, which peaked in March 2021 when it was up 120% on 2019 levels.

Shoppers spent 47% and 10% more on streaming subscriptions and electronics during the year respectively, while spending with vet and pet retailers rose 29%.

Barclaycard head of consumer products Jose Carvalho said: “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.”

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