ICAEW chart of the week: UK card activity

9 April 2020: Debit and credit cards were used 19.7bn times in 2019, with £722bn spent.

Debit and credit card activity in the UK 2019: 19.7bn transactions for £722bn.  Debit cards 15.6bn for £503bn, credit cards 4.1bn for £219bn.

This #icaewchartoftheweek is on the subject of credit and debit usage in the UK, with UK Finance (the trade body for the banking and financial sector) reporting that £722bn was spent on UK and overseas cards in 2019. This comprised 19.7bn transactions at an average of just under £37 per transaction.

Average spending on credit cards at £53 per transaction was higher than the average of £32 spent on each debit card transaction. As a consequence, credit cards were around 30% of the total spend, but 21% of total transactions.

The number and value of contactless transactions both increased by 16% compared with 2018, as more and more people chose to use this form of payment. The average contactless spend was £9.35 on 8.6bn occasions, in contrast with the £81 spent on each of the 2.7bn online transactions in 2019, and the average of £50 incurred in 8.4bn non-contactless transactions.
Overall spending on credit and debit cards in 2019 was only 0.2% higher than in 2018, even though the number of transactions was up by 7.3%. This provides an indication of the weakness in the UK economy before recent events.
Of course, what we all want to know if what is happening right now. With the country in lockdown, the number and value of transactions are likely to fall significantly. We will be poring over that data as soon as it is made available!

ICAEW chart of the week: retail sales

3 April 2020: the #icaewchartoftheweek is on the subject of retail sales, with UK supermarkets experiencing a 20.5% growth in sales in the four weeks ending on Saturday 21 March 2020 according to Nielsen.

Supermarket sales: £9.2bn 4 weeks to 23 Mar 2019 + £1.2bn 3 more shopping trips +£0.7bn 1 more item per basked = £11.2bn 4 weeks to 21 Mar 2020.

This is dramatic for the sector, with sales in the last week in that period up 43% over the equivalent week last year.

Although newspaper headlines are full of stories about panic buying, the statistics themselves provide a more nuanced perspective. Shoppers each made an additional three visits to supermarkets over the four-week period at the same time as adding an extra item to each basket (up from 10 to 11 items on average), with the average spend per basket increasing from £15 to £16.

Although some of those extra £1s will have gone on stocking up on toilet rolls and pasta, in practice the majority of this additional spending will have simply replaced food and drink previously bought elsewhere, as pubs, restaurants, works canteens and school lunches have all ceased to operate over the course of the last few weeks.

A boom time for supermarkets, but terrible for most of the rest of the retail sector.

This chart was originally published by ICAEW.