26th February 2021

UK Finance says Black Friday and national lockdown behind spike in online spending in November

Card spending data published today by UK Finance reveals that online spending across credit and debit cards last November reached a proportion not seen since the first lockdown, in a month which included Black Friday sales and new coronavirus restrictions across the UK.

Online card spending accounted for 38% of the total value of credit and debit card spending in the UK in November 2020- worth over £22bn-compared with 33% in October. The average value of online transactions crept up to over £82 compared to £73 in November 2019, as larger purchases moved online.

The number of contactless payments dropped sharply month-on-month, declining by 17.6 per cent compared with October, as people remained at home due to COVID-19 restrictions and therefore had fewer opportunities for spending in pubs, restaurants and on public transport. The total value of contactless transactions was £9.9bn during November, a 17.2 per cent decrease from October. However, this was a 43.7% increase on November 2019, as people continued to take advantage of the higher £45 payment limit.

In total, 1.5 billion debit and credit card transactions were made in the UK in November, reaching a total value of £58.8bn. This reflected a drop of 11.6% in the number of transactions compared to October, and was 12.4% fewer than in November 2019, reflecting an overall decline in spending as people adjusted to the new restrictions.

UK Finance data also shows that outstanding balances on credit card accounts fell by 15.7% in the year to November. This was the fourth successive month in which repayments have outstripped borrowing, and the largest drop over a twelve-month period since the pandemic began. This can be attributed to people choosing to pay off debt or reduced usage of credit facilities.

Eric Leenders, Managing Director of Personal Finance, UK Finance, comments “Last November saw stricter coronavirus restrictions put in place across the country, just as the Christmas shopping season kicked off and the Black Friday sales arrived. This led to a rise in the share of online card spending, reaching levels not seen since the first lockdown, while contactless spending fell as people remained at home and reduced their travel.
Meanwhile the trend of people choosing to pay off credit card debt or make less use of credit card facilities continued as repayments outstripped lending for the fourth month in a row.”

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