Valentine’s Day fails to boost retail sales in February

The retail industry lost out to the experience sector last month, with most consumers choosing to dine out over shopping.

New figures from Visa UK’s Consumer Spending Index show that average spend grew 1.5% in February, up from a five-month low of 0.4% in January.

But while Valentine’s Day and the half term break helped boost spending on hotels, restaurants and bars (+5.7) and recreation and culture (+3.3%), clothing and footwear retailers witnessed a 4% drop in spending.

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Kevin Jenkins, UK & Ireland managing director at Visa commented: “Growth in the experience sector continues to be a significant driver. Valentine’s Day and the half-term break gave consumers more reasons to dine out and treat their loved ones to short getaways around the UK.

“At the same time, the level of growth in the leisure and hospitality sectors was softer than we have seen in the past year, showing signs that consumers are becoming more cautious with their discretionary spending. And for clothing retailers, February was yet another challenging month, recording the biggest drop across all the sectors that we track.

“Notably, online retailers continued to enjoy strong growth, while the high street trailed behind, declining for the third month in the last four.”

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