‘Revenge spending’ kept travel sector buoyant in November

The ‘revenge spending’ trend helped the travel sector maintain double-digit growth last month, according to new data.

The travel industry performed strongly in November, having recorded double-digit growth for 11 of the last 12 months, the latest Barclays consumer card spending report out today (Tuesday) shows.

The month saw sizeable uplifts at both travel agents (9.2%) and airlines (14%). 

Barclays said: “This long run of growth has its roots in the pandemic, with a fifth (19%) of consumers planning more holidays in 2024, citing that they’re still catching up on trips missed during lockdowns – a trend otherwise known as ‘revenge spending’.”

The November figures show year-on-year transaction growth through travel agents rising by 14.7% and 23.4% with airlines.

Overall travel spend was up by 10.5% with transactions growing by 10.7% when public transport and other travel is included.

Overall consumer card spending grew 2.9% over November last year – less than the latest Consumer Prices Index inflation rate of 4.7% but higher than October’s 2.6% growth.

This came as people’s confidence in their ability to spend on non-essential items (56%) reached its highest level since April. 

The high street received a “welcome boost” from month-long Black Friday sales.

Barclays said: “Encouragingly, while the proportions of Brits concerned about inflation and food prices remain high (each at 86%), both fell to their lowest levels since December 2021. 

“Similar improvements were also recorded on attitudes towards fuel prices, household bills and interest rates.”

Barclays director Esme Harwood said: “Shoppers got into the festive spirit early this year, flocking to the high street to take advantage of month-long Black Friday sales, and unlocking long-awaited retail growth.

“November also marked a turning point for consumer sentiment – confidence in personal finances improved, with Brits starting to feel less concerned about some of 2023’s defining issues, such as inflation, interest rates, and food prices – so there are reasons to be cautiously optimistic as we look ahead to Christmas and the new year.”

The bank’s chief UK economist Jack Meaning added: “This data suggests consumers are continuing to spend more but get less for their money, as spending growth remains below inflation. 

“However, the gap is narrowing as the rate of price increases slows, and we expect it to narrow further in the coming months.

“It’s reassuring to see that some of the previous weakness in spending was due to unseasonal weather, as shoppers go out and finally buy that new winter coat and get in the Christmas spirit. 

“But the key question for the UK is what happens after the holiday period – it will take more than a festive bounce to keep consumers spending in 2024.”

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