Consumer spending on flights, travel, hotels and car hire all rose in the first quarter of the year when outlay on other items fell, new research reveals.

Airline spending saw an unprecedented spike as people rushed to book holidays, perhaps wary of leaner times to come, according to figures based on the spending data of more than 3 million active accounts of UK bank customers.

There were suggestions of an increase in domestic breaks as well, with hotel and petrol spending also seeing dramatic increases alongside outlay in UK restaurants.

Spending on airlines soared by 58.4% since the previous quarter. This was the highest since 2015 and an increase of 8.3% on the same time last year, according to Cardlytics, which conducted the study.

Travel spend increased by more than a third (37.5%) over the last three months of 2016 and was up by 3.8% year-on-year.

Hotel spending went up by 10% compared to the first three months of 2016 and was up by 9.1% compared with the final quarter of last year.

The amount spent on car rental was up by 7% over the final quarter of 2016 but fell by 2% year-on-year.

The figures came against a backdrop of overall consumer spending rising by 2.7% compared to the time last year and 7% against the same time in 2015.

However, sectors such as retail, DIY, fashion, grocery and health and beauty all saw falls in spending against the fourth quarter of 2016.

Cardlytics international operations president, Pete Gleason, said: “Lower prices have been generous to fuel consumer spending across the board, but there is evidence that purse strings are being tightened and people are becoming more selective.

“While the surge in airline spending is significant, the growing trend to spend money locally, at restaurants and hotels among other areas, presents an opportunity for brands to get creative and build relationships with existing customers and attract new ones.”