December heralds shoppers’ first festive rush as annual spending increased during first week of the month

  • Figures from Visa’s Weekly Christmas Spending Tracker show consumer spend increased 2.5% year-on-year during the first full week in December
  • Mega Monday drives online sales (up 4.4% year-on-year) while the High Street also benefits from an annual uplift (up 1.9% year-on-year)

London, 12 December 2012 - As December began, consumers stepped up spending in the countdown to Christmas, according to the findings of the Visa Weekly Christmas Spending Tracker (covering week of 3rd to 9th December). The data show that spend is up 2.5% year-on-year as shoppers headed both online and in-store to stock up on festive purchases.

The Visa Weekly Christmas Spending Tracker uses adjusted Visa Europe card transaction data to provide a robust indicator of total consumer expenditure across all payment methods. With £1 in every £3 in the UK spent on a Visa card, the Tracker gives a uniquely comprehensive and timely insight into the health of consumer spending.

Online spend increased 4.4% year-on-year as consumers logged on for Mega Monday, the busiest online shopping day, on 3rd December to make the most of early online delivery slots. Consumers also hit the High Street in force, with in-store spend increasing 1.9% year-on-year.

Clothing and footwear continued to show the strongest category increase according to the Tracker, with spend up 11.3% week-on-week and 3.8% year-on-year, suggesting that people are looking to stock up on party wear and clothes as a Christmas gift.

Commenting on the findings, Dr Steve Perry, Commercial Director at Visa Europe, said: "December’s arrival has really kick-started the countdown to Christmas as spending both online and on the High Street increased last week. Early December is typically a strong time for online shopping as consumers plan ahead to ensure their Christmas deliveries arrive on time, and we saw a new record number of transactions on Mega Monday, but the cold snap and festive cheer seem to have got people in the mood to hit the High Street too, with spend up 1.9% year-on-year.

"The data show that clothing retailers continue to benefit from an uplift in spend as people head to the shops to get ready for the Christmas party season."

Visa Europe predicted that Monday 3rd December would be Mega Monday - the UK’s busiest online shopping day. Its final data reveals that online transactions topped 7 million for the first time on a single day, with £365 million spent online on Visa cards.

How the Visa UK Christmas Spend Tracker is compiled:

The Visa UK Christmas Spend Tracker uses card transaction data to provide a robust indicator of total consumer expenditure across all payment methods. It is based on spending on all Visa debit, credit and prepaid cards which are used to make an average of over 1.9 billion transactions every quarter and account for £1 in £3 of all UK spending. Working with Markit, these card spending data figures are adjusted for a variety of factors such as card issuance, changing consumer preferences to pay by card rather than cash, and inflation. These adjustments mean that these data are distinct from Visa Europe’s business performance and the Tracker reflects overall consumer spending, not just that on cards.

About Visa Europe

In Europe, there are 460 million Visa debit, credit and commercial cards. In the 12 months ending June 2012 those cards were used to make purchases and cash withdrawals to the value of €1.8 trillion. 14% of consumer spending at the point of sale in Europe is with a Visa card, and almost 80% of that is on Visa debit cards.

Visa Europe is independent of global Visa Inc., with an exclusive, irrevocable and perpetual licence in Europe, while both companies operate to ensure global interoperability. As a dedicated European payment system Visa Europe is able to respond quickly to the specific market needs of European banks and their customers - cardholders and retailers - and to meet the European Commission’s objective to create a true internal market for payments.

Visa enjoys unsurpassed acceptance around the world. In addition, Visa/PLUS is one of the world’s largest global ATM networks, offering cash access in local currency in over 200 countries.

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