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2017 was the worst year for consumer spending since 2012, research from Visa has found. The negative trend in consumer spending even saw a fall in Christmas spending, while in the previous four years, annual consumer spending rose by an average of 1.7%.
Visa's results further show that sales were particularly down on the high street, while online spending held up. Another bright spot in December's results, as stated by Mark Antipof, chief commercial officer at Visa, were hotels and restaurants, as "consumers have been opting to spend on UK staycations as opposed to physical items and trips abroad."
So, while the high street may have seemed as packed as ever in the lead-up to Christmas, this research suggests that people were less quick to spend. Indeed, part of the reason for the stable spending figures from online shopping may be that less people were happy to handle the pre-Christmas mobs, or possibly it may just be that all the best deals could be found online.
Let's not discount the effects of inflation, either, with last year's increasing CPI rate meaning that the cost of consumer goods, from fuel to grocery shopping, continues to rise. As a result, shoppers have to be savvier than ever.
Have you shunned the high street this year in favour of getting your presents online? And have you managed to withstand the pressure to buy more, more, more to cut back on your Christmas spending? Well, don't let that hard work go to waste.
Once you've paid off any debts you may have, consider putting all the money you're saving by not buying as much or holidaying abroad into a dedicated savings account. It's always a good idea to have an easy access account for an emergency pot, but don't forget about fixed bonds to get higher savings rates.
Any spending that you can't avoid could be made more rewarding by using a reward credit card (provided your credit score is up to scratch and you can pay off the balance on the card every month without fail) or finding vouchers online. Whatever you decide to do with your money this year, be savvy about it, as inflation may not be going down anytime soon.
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