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UK Consumer Spending Falls by Most Since July

Expenditure on clothes, recreation, transport and communication all dropped by more than 2 percent in November compared with a year earlier.
British high street | Source: Shutterstock
By
  • Reuters

LONDON, United Kingdom — British consumer spending fell by the most since July last month, payments company Visa said on Tuesday, adding to signs of slowing economic growth toward the end of the year.

Consumer spending dropped 0.7 percent year-on-year in November, a sharper decline than October's 0.2 percent drop, Visa said, based on inflation-adjusted usage data from its debit, credit and prepaid cards.

Black Friday discounts did not remedy slowing spending as some retailers had hoped. Challenging economic conditions and uncertainty surrounding Britain's upcoming departure from the European Union have weighed on British consumer confidence, with expenditure down most months so far this year.

"The disappointing trend reflects relatively subdued consumer confidence as uncertainty lingers over the outcome of ongoing Brexit negotiations," IHS Markit economist Annabel Fiddes said.

While spending at bars and restaurants picked up to grow by a robust 5.1 percent, expenditure on clothes, recreation and transport and communication all dropped by more than 2 percent in November compared with a year earlier.

Online shopping growth slowed, but still outperformed face-to-face sales. Last week market research company Springboard said the number of shoppers on the high street and at retail parks dropped by the most of any November since it started collecting data in 2009.

"Economic conditions are likely to remain challenging for retailers, at least in the short term," Visa economist Adolfo Laurenti said.

By Amy O'Brien; editor: David Milliken.

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