Consumer spending in the United Kingdom fell 7.2 percent in March compared to the same period in 2019 but there are signs of hope for the travel industry as Britons start to book post-lockdown trips and activities.
Spending in the travel industry in March was down compared to figures from two years ago, but was higher than in January and February, suggesting holidaymakers have started to plan trips for later in the year.
Hotels, resorts and accommodation spending were down 54.3 percent compared to the 75.4 percent drop in January, and the 70.3 percent decline in February.
Data from Barclaycard reveals that two-fifths of Britons are planning a holiday in the UK in 2021, rather than overseas. Of these internal holidaymakers, 41 per cent plan to spend more than they normally would travelling abroad.
Barclaycard has changed the way it calculates its research by comparing data on a two-year comparison, instead of year-on-year.
This is to provide a more realistic view of the UK's long-term recovery from the impact of coronavirus.
The easing of lockdown restrictions has also seen consumers buying entertainment-related activities, such as family days out, theme park tickets and gym memberships. Spending was down 57.9 percent compared to two years ago, and compared to a 83.2 percent drop in February.
Spending at sports and outdoor retailers also recovered slightly, dropping just 5.9 per cent compared to 11.7 per cent in February.
Restaurants should also see an improvement as one in four people have already been booking post-lockdown activities, with 41 percent of these consumers booking restaurant reservations for meals outdoors, which have been allowed since Monday.
Raheel Ahmed, head of consumer products at Barclaycard, said: "With springtime finally here and restrictions starting to ease, it's encouraging to see a renewed sense of optimism across much of the UK. There are also signs that some of those sectors most heavily impacted by the pandemic, such as hotels, resorts, accommodation and entertainment, are beginning to turn a corner, as many look forward to long-awaited trips and activities with family and friends after lockdown."
Meanwhile, overall spending on essential items grew 7.7 per cent compared to 2019, bolstered by strong growth in food and drink specialist stores. Spending on non-essentials dropped 14.5 percent.
E-commerce continued to surge across multiple categories, with triple-digit growth recorded in online spending for grocery, eating and drinking, and general retail, the global payment company said.
In separate figures from the British Retail Consortium, or BRC, sales increased by 8.3 percent in March compared to the same period in 2019.
BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said this was largely driven by grocery spending, but the majority of categories remain in decline, with fashion and footwear the hardest hit.