Give me some Credit! Consumers spend more on Credit Cards during the Festive Period despite Uncertainty around Brexit

Analysis released by UK payments provider NetPay today showed that consumers increasingly relied on their credit cards to get them through the festive period, with the percentage of credit card usage as a share of overall card usage up to 15.14% across November and December 2019 and going into the traditional January sales period from just 12.59% during the same period in 2018. Spending on debit card decreased from 84.86% to 87.41%.

The data also showed the continued conversion from cash to card as consumers opted to use contactless for low value transactions with debit card average transaction value falling to £19.55 down from £20.54 in the same period last year. Interestingly, credit card average transaction value also fell from £32.52 in 2018 to £27.07 in 2019. This decrease is also driven by an increase in contactless credit card use, a worrying trend where consumers are having to rely on their credit cards for even low value purchases.

Carl Churchill, NetPay’s Managing Director says, “The figures show that despite the uncertainty of Brexit, consumers struggled to make ends meet during the important festive period and had to resort to credit card spending for even low value essentials driving overall credit card usage up and average transaction value down. Credit cards have traditionally been the payment method for bigger ticket purchases and that absolutely remains the case but what is interesting to see in 2019 vs. the same period in 2018 is this increase in contactless credit card spending resulting in a near 17% reduction in average transaction value. In our 7 years in the market we have never seen this level of change. January is traditionally a month where spending falls but with both Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day before a late Easter, shops and restaurants should see sales begin to increase once the December credit card bills have been paid off!”

Despite the ONS (Office for National Statistics) reporting weak December sales for retailers in the run up to Christmas following a difficult year for the sector*, a pre-Christmas survey carried out in Quarter 4 2019 revealed that UK consumers intended to spend an average of £567 on Christmas (+1.3% compared with 2018). Most money is spent on gifts followed by food and drink, then socialising and finally travel (38.6% more than the European average).**