Cold snap coincides with an upturn in consumer spending

Figures from Visa’s Weekly Christmas Spending Tracker indicate last week’s cold snap drove demand for clothing and footwear

Spending up 11.9% week-on-week but down -2.8% on 2011 with enduring pressure on consumer budgets

London, 05 December 2012 - Consumer spending increased 11.9% last week (26th – 2nd December) compared to the previous week (19th – 25th November), according to the Visa Weekly Christmas Spending Tracker amid signs of a surge in Christmas shopping. Spending on Clothing and Footwear increased 25.6% week-on-week suggesting that shoppers started to stock their winter wardrobes as temperatures plummeted.

However, the latest Tracker, for the week commencing 26th November, shows that spending is down -2.8% compared to the same week in 2011 highlighting ongoing consumer caution. Spending across four week averages – an indicator of underlying trends – also saw a slight decline of -0.4%.

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.

Commenting on the findings, Dr Steve Perry, Commercial Director at Visa Europe, said: "Data from Visa’s Weekly Christmas Spending Tracker showed some signs of improvement as we entered December. Temperatures plummeted, which often deters shoppers from leaving the house. However, spending data indicate an early Christmas present for clothing retailers with spending up nearly 26% compared to the previous week.

“While spending increased 11.9% compared to the previous week the overall picture is still one of weaker spending when compared to 2011. It is possible however that shoppers are holding out until later in the month before they make their purchases or in the hope of discounts from retailers.”

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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