Sales of Taylor Swift and Foo Fighters concert tickets helped to boost card spending by 4% year-on-year in July despite consumers’ ongoing battle with the cost of living.
Live entertainment, holiday bookings and summer socialising motivated consumers to part with their cash, although careful discretionary spending saw the overall growth figure fall from June’s 5.4%, Barclays said.
Spending on non-essential items was up 5.6% on a year ago, with bars, pubs and clubs enjoying 7.6% growth.
The entertainment sector saw a significant 15.8% boost, with surges recorded on sale dates for Taylor Swift’s Eras tour and Foo Fighters’ upcoming concerts.
One in 10 consumers (11%) said they were cutting back on other expenses to afford tickets to concerts and movies, while 10% said they treated themselves to a concert or film ticket in July even though they could not really afford it.
Spending in supermarkets slowed considerably to 5.2% from 9.8% a month earlier as the rate of food price inflation continued to slow after peaking in March.
However, concern around rising food prices remains high at 91%, leading 70% of shoppers to look for ways to reduce the cost of their weekly shop – the highest percentage so far this year.
Of those, 13% reported having to remove items at the checkout to avoid going over budget, 35% buying in bulk and 41% shopping at multiple supermarkets to seek out deals.
Meanwhile, 73% of consumers reported noticing examples of “shrinkflation”, up from 70% in June, and 22% noticing that some of the alcoholic drinks they buy such as beers, spirits and tinned cocktails have become weaker or contain less alcohol while costing the same amount.
This coincides with changes to alcohol duty introduced on August 1, which now taxes drinks on their strength.
Takeaways and digital content and subscriptions rose 9.2% and 9.9% respectively, with the growth in streaming services possibly linked to platforms cracking down on account sharing.
Travel spending also continued to perform well, with travel agents and airlines seeing sales increases of 7.8% and 39.1% respectively.
Esme Harwood, director at Barclays, said: “While July’s weather was a washout for clothing retailers, it was a ray of sunshine for takeaways and streaming services, which performed better than expected.
“Entertainment also enjoyed a huge boost, largely thanks to pre-sales for Taylor Swift’s and Foo Fighters’ upcoming stadium tours.
“With value for money still a major concern at the supermarket, eagle-eyed consumers are also spotting signs of drinkflation – shrinkflation on alcoholic drinks.
“This could be due to manufacturers making changes to their products ahead of the recent changes to alcohol duty, which mean that drinks are now taxed according to strength rather than type.”
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