LONDON (Reuters) – British consumers reined in spending last month, payments company Visa said on Tuesday, adding to signs that the economy is on track for slower growth in the final months of this year.
Consumer spending fell by 0.2 percent year-on-year in October, the first drop in three months, after a 0.2 percent rise in September, Visa said, based on inflation-adjusted usage data of its debit, credit and prepaid cards.
“No doubt this disappointing reading will cause some concern for high street retailers as we head into the key Christmas shopping period,” Visa economist Adolfo Laurenti said.
Face-to-face spending on the high street fell by 2.0 percent, the biggest decline in six months, Visa said, chiming with a Confederation of British Industry survey two weeks ago that showed a sharp slowdown in sales last month.
Online sales, however, rose 2.6 percent, Visa said.
British retailers themselves have reported mixed fortunes in their most recent earnings reports.
While grocery sales have been robust this year, a shift away from high-street spending towards holidays and entertainment, along with intense online competition, has taken its toll on clothing and homeware retailers who lack a dominant internet presence.
(Reporting by Andy Bruce, editing by David Milliken)