Barclays: Tiktok ‘no spend challenge’ helps push non-essential spending to two-year low

Non-essential spending slumped to its lowest level in over two years, a new report has found, as Brits partaking in a popular no-spend challenge bruises restaurant and retail trade.

Apr 9, 2024 - 06:35
Barclays: Tiktok ‘no spend challenge’ helps push non-essential spending to two-year low

Fresh figures from the British Retail Consortium show UK retail sales were up by 2.5 per cent year on year last month, which is a growth of more than five per cent from last year.

A new report has found that non-essential spending slumped to its lowest level in over two years, as Brits partaking in a popular no-spend challenge bruised restaurant and retail trade. 

According to a report by Barclays, some 23 per cent of the public have participated or would consider participating in a no-spend challenge to shore up extra funds. 

Participants are encouraged to only spend money on the bare essentials for a whole month of the year or an extended period of time.

Almost half of consumers said they would cook more at home to save costs, while 37 per cent said they would try to spend less to save for a holiday or an emergency cash fund. 

Videos tagged with #nospendchallenge have garnered over 40m views of platforms such as Tiktok, as people turn to the internet for inspiration. 

The rise in the savvy trend comes as consumers’ confidence in their ability to spend on non-essential items slipped to 55 per cent in March, down from 59 per cent recorded in February. 

During the month, retail spending remained almost flat at 0.7 per cent, brought down by falling in-store spending. 

Face-to-face retail, excluding groceries, was down 2.1 per cent and clothing fell 1.8 per cent, as spring showers deterred shoppers from visiting the high street. 

Meanwhile, restaurants had another challenging month, down 12.6 per cent, consistent with the fall witnessed in February of 13.4 per cent. 

Karen Johnson, head of retail at Barclays, said: “Retailers were braced for a more subdued start to 2024, and recent figures are in line with expectations. 

“The wet weather has been a key factor in the slowdown in discretionary spending, as it’s meant fewer visits to the high street and to hospitality venues.”

“However, in spite of this initial lull, many retailers are confident that spending will rebound in the coming months, particularly in anticipation of better weather, the energy price cap drop, an uplift in the National Minimum Wage, and the buzz around major events such as Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour and the Paris 2024 Olympics.”

A report released by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) also found that non-food sales decreased 1.9 per cent  year on year over the three-months to March, against a growth of 1.8 per cent  in March 2023. 

This is slightly steeper than the 12-month average decline of 1.1 per cent. 

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC: “After a difficult start to the year, retailers are hopeful that with warmer weather around the corner, consumer confidence will spring back up. 

“A strong retail industry can boost investment across our towns and cities, and as we gear up for a general election, it is essential the next government recognises this and rethinks the burdensome costs imposed on retailers. 

She added: “With a pro-growth policy landscape, retailers can step up their investment in innovation and in local jobs and communities up and down the country.”