Consumer spend in the UK is flat, according to data from Visa’s Weekly Christmas Spending Tracker.
Spending is down 3.7% in the week commencing 19 November compared to last year, according to the data.
Spending across four week averages – an indicator of underlying trends – also saw a slight decline of 0.8%. Spending picked up slightly in comparison to the previous week, registering a 1.2% increase.
The findings come as the UK prepares for 'Mega Monday' on 3 December - when Visa Europe is predicting that £320 million will be spent on Visa cards online.
Dr Steve Perry, Commercial Director at Visa Europe, said:
“Data from Visa’s Weekly Christmas Spending Tracker indicate that consumer spend in the UK is flat, meaning that retailers online and on the High Street are going to have to work hard to extract the same level of spend as last year.
“Hard-pressed consumers are evidently looking for ways to make their money go further this Christmas. This is why we expect a record number of shoppers to seek out bargains and offers online on Monday 3rd December, the UK’s Mega Monday.”
Next Monday UK consumers set to make online history with a “shopping frenzy”, according to Visa Europe and John Lewis.
Online transactions are predicted to be up 21% on last year and look set to top 6.8 million, making 3 December the busiest online shopping day in history.
Analysis of Visa Europe’s data shows that the busiest online shopping day historically falls on the Monday closest to the beginning of December.
A combination of pay day for the majority of consumers falling on the last Friday of the month and a weekend spent browsing the shops, results in shoppers logging on to buy their gifts online on the subsequent Monday.
All of these factors will result in consumers spending £222,222 per minute, making 4,722 transactions every sixty seconds.
“Consumers are becoming increasingly accustomed to the advantages of shopping online for everyday purchases and special items, especially in the lead-up to Christmas,” said Dr Perry.
“Online shopping now accounts for a significant proportion of all retail spend. This reflects the confidence that shoppers feel about the security of using their Visa cards for online transactions.”
John Lewis predicts that shoppers will rush online to purchase technology products and tech toys as they seek to ensure they get this year’s present must-haves.
Mobile and tablet technology is driving behaviour change: mobile traffic and orders to JohnLewis.com have more than trebled on a year ago (+335% w/c 12th November), and a third of customers are now shopping using mobile phones or tablet devices.
More than £1 in every £3 spent in the UK is on a Visa card, making this data one of the most reliable indicators of trends in consumer spending.
The busiest high-street shopping day often falls two days before Christmas Day. The weekend of 22 to 23 December will be a key time for many consumers to make last minute purchases, with Visa Europe predicting Saturday 22 December to be the busiest day for shopping on the high street.