Couple wearing cosy socks

How does our spending change when the weather gets colder?

Are you a summer lover or a winter wonder? Do you find it easier to save £££ when it’s chilly and damp out, or are you pretty steady all year round? Perhaps you spend your time in November booking flights, tickets and trips for the following July - or are you one of those curious characters that does all their Christmas shopping in August? 

Does our spending really change when the weather outside is frightful? According to Barclaycard consumer spending data, it most certainly does. Where the summer months are all about taking life as it comes, the autumn and winter tend to see spikes in slow and dependable home comforts.

Here we explore the consumer trends that have come to define our seasonal spending - and consider what businesses can do to capture the attention of holidaying and hibernating customers alike... 

Going out and staying in

This past summer, after longing to go out for some year and a half, go out we did. Consumer spending jumped by 15.4 per cent in August according to Barclaycard consumer spending data as Brits finally had the opportunity to get (cautiously) back out there and enjoy a semi-normal summer with friends and family. The hospitality sector experienced a much-needed boom, with several categories including restaurants, pubs and clubs experiencing their best months since the start of the pandemic. The boom in summer socialising also had a positive impact on entertainment – such as theatre, festival and theme park tickets – which reached a new high of 24.2 per cent, while taxi and fuel spending also increased to 20.6 per cent and 7.2 per cent respectively.

But as our passionfruit martinis turned into pumpkin spiced lattes, many of us retreated back to the great indoors, taking the opportunity to get reacquainted with our sofas. Consumer spend figures from Barclaycard consumer spending data for October, for example, saw strong growth in cinemas and digital content subscriptions, boosted by titles such as ‘No Time to Die’, ‘Squid Game’ and ‘Succession’.

The release of popular new series and boxsets fuelled demand for sign-up services, with digital content & subscriptions rising 38.6 per cent. Spending on non-essential items also rose 14.6 per cent, including an incredible 127.1 per cent jump in online takeaway spend, as the colder weather led more Brits to order fast food via delivery apps.

While this year has certainly been an extension of these trends, we do normally see some version of this seasonal spending. As warmer weather hits in spring and summer, we spend less on takeaways and indoor activities and more on big outdoor events. Then, as soon as the first leaves turn golden, we quickly retreat indoors, before a flurry of festivities in late November and throughout December. 

With our sunshine-soaked lust for life, it makes sense that we would spend more in summer - and we mostly do, if not for one BIG midwinter frenzy...

Shopping for others (and ourselves)

According to the Bank of England, the average UK household spends roughly £2,500 in an average month. But December isn’t an average month… Their research shows that the most wonderful time of the year sees our monthly average household spend sprout (get it?) by an extra £740 - most of it on clothing, footwear and textiles, but also technology, books and, naturally, food and drink.

Last Christmas was one most of us won’t forget in a hurry, but as everything else ground to a halt, how did our spending look? According to Barclaycard consumer spending data for December, perhaps unsurprisingly, while we spent more than ever on our Christmas food shopping (+88 per cent), the tightening of tiered restrictions had an effect on the high-street. Online retail increased by 52.2 per cent as Brits shopped from home, whilst tighter restrictions led to in-store retail declining 8.3 per cent. Despite 4.5 per cent growth in essentials, consumer spending retracted by 2.3 per cent overall - again, understandably. 

But what about this year? As the sound of jingle bells becomes louder, British SME’s are predicting a strong festive trading period as payments volumes rise, according to Barclaycard Payments' latest quarterly SME Barometer.  As the Christmas shopping rush gets underway, our data shows that in the three months up to 31 October, transaction volumes among this group were up 38.1 per cent on 2019 (we’re omitting 2020 for the obvious reasons stated above). Business owners are starting to feel more optimistic about their own performance, with almost three in 10 (29 per cent) expecting their most successful festive period since 2016. 

Whether you like to change your spending habits over the summer or winter months, we hope that you have a snuggly and relaxed late-Autumn/early Winter season – we’ve certainly earned it this year!