Solid overall spending growth in December, but e-commerce the clear winner at Christmas

“Despite concerns about Black Friday limiting growth in December, consumer spending rose solidly last month as retailers benefited from the traditional spending surges in the days just before and after Christmas.

“Much of the stampede took place online though as shoppers took to mobiles, laptops and computers to buy Christmas presents. Evidence also suggests people were spending more online closer to Christmas, perhaps as a result of shorter delivery time and click & collect options. In contrast, high street spend remained broadly flat.o9x3hiznldrmjmwdmcdu

“Overall, December rounded off a very strong year for consumer spending, with average monthly growth of 2.3%, as a mix of rising wages, near-zero inflation and a retail price war put more money into consumer pockets. This is the second strongest performance since 2008, only slightly below 2014 when growth hit a post crisis high.”

What UK businesses are saying:

Visa is tracking the sentiment of several small businesses across the UK on a monthly basis, asking about their views on the economy, business conditions and forecasts for the month ahead.

  • Imogen Hawthorne, Paisley Immy Cakes, Birmingham: As expected December was a manic month much like last year. We experienced an upsurge in the number of orders we received as well as a boost in order value as the month progressed. Our site and social media pages also experienced increased traffic towards the end of the year. We’re prepared for the busy period to roll into 2016 as we’ve already started to receive some January orders
  • Quan Nguyen, Chi Café, London: “December is often a quieter month for us, especially nearer to Christmas, as office workers in the area start to leave for the holiday. Last month was no exception, sales dipped from the previous month, but were slightly higher than in December 2014. The year-on-year improvement might have been down to the higher average spend per person we’ve seen in the last couple of months. We’re positive that total number of sales will pick up in January when people return to work after the holiday.”

•Tony Bailey, Top Notch Hair & Beauty, Manchester: December’s figures were lower than expected due to wet weather keeping our clients off the high street. Business from our male customers remained fairly steady as they continued to come in for routine cuts, but women were more hesitant to schedule new styles and colours in the inclement weather. Those that did venture out of their homes treated themselves to more pampering as the average bill was up 1.5%.