Britons splash lockdown cash on dining, gardens — and pets

Britons splashed lockdown cash in the second quarter as coronavirus restrictions eased, splurging on going out, gardening, holidays and pampered pets, lender Nationwide said on Thursday.

Nationwide revealed a 20 percent jump in transactions among its customers in the three months to the end of June, compared with the first quarter.

Non-essential spending by customers meanwhile soared by 60 percent in the second quarter, the nation’s biggest building society said in a report based on about 566 million transactions in the period.

Holidays registered the biggest increase, with spending soaring 141 percent, particularly for caravanning and camping staycations in Britain.

Gardening items jumped 77 percent, while spending on eating out more than doubled thanks to the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions.

There were 9.39 million transactions in bars and pubs in the period, not far from the 9.56 million in the first quarter of last year, before the pandemic erupted.

Britons meanwhile spent £124.5 million ($171 million, 146 million euros) in the second quarter on items for their beloved pets, up seven percent from the first.

“The UK continues to have a love affair with pets,” Nationwide said, noting the money splurged on “our furry and feathered friends” was the biggest increase among the essential expenditure segments.

Other top spending targets included charity donations and shops, clothing and shoes, health and beauty, home improvements, and leisure and recreation.

“As the country reopens .. consumer spending is following suit as people loosen those purse strings and start to enjoy getting back out there,” said Mark Nalder, head of payments at Nationwide.

“This yearning for a sense of normality, combined with a successful vaccination programme, is perhaps what is driving spend upwards — with a significant increase in holiday spend a prime example of this.

And the trend is expected to continue into the summer months.

“We expect non-essential spending to continue edging up as people look to enjoy their freedom using some of the savings built up during lockdown,” Nalder added.