Mastercard SpendingPulse: U.K Shoppers return to the high street as restaurants thrive during the festive season

December 26, 2023 | LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM

According to preliminary insights from Mastercard SpendingPulse™, total U.K. retail sales (excluding auto) for the holiday period running from November 1 – December 24 were up 2.6% year-on-year. SpendingPulse measures in-store and online retail sales across all forms of payment and is not adjusted for inflation. 

There’s been a festive return to in-person experiences, as spend on restaurants increased by over 11.4% and in-store sales increased 3.5% year-on-year (YoY).  

U.K. consumer spend volume during the period peaked during Black Friday, as savvy shoppers looked out for promotions to make the most of their spending and navigate inflation. This was particularly true for categories like electronics, which saw sales spike on Cyber Monday.    

 Key trends from the holiday shopping period in the U.K. included:  

  • A return to the high street: In-store sales were up 3.5% as shoppers came back to the high street, whilst online sales were down 2.8%, showing that consumers still have an appetite for shopping in-person.  


  • A lasting impression:Jewellery saw significant growth: up 8.3% YoY, proving that it continues to be a festive favourite when it comes to gifts.  


  • Dressing up and dining out: British consumers were updating their wardrobes ahead of the festive party season, with clothing sales up 8%. They dressed to impress, while spend in restaurants increased [11.4%], showing that despite a difficult macroeconomic environment, the British consumer is resilient when it comes to celebrating.  


  • Savvy shoppers look for sales: Consumers picked their moments and waited for discounts before splashing out on the latest games and phones. Although electronic sales for the festive period were slightly up (+1.9%), sale prices drove a considerable spend increase on Cyber Monday, up 9.2% YoY.    


Natalia Lechmanova, Senior Economist, Europe for Mastercard said;  

The British consumer has been savvy with their spending this year. Although overall retail spend is relatively flat, we’ve seen an increase in spending on Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions when it comes to electronics in particular. Shoppers have been willing to splash out for gifts, with spend on jewellery and clothing up considerably year-on-year, but wanted to do so at the right price.”  

“We’ve also seen a cautiously optimistic return to the high street. British consumers want to celebrate during the festive period, and we’ve seen spend on restaurants increase by over 10% as people continue to value experiences and spending time together post-pandemic.”    

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About Mastercard SpendingPulse  

Mastercard SpendingPulse™ reports on national retail sales across all payment types in select markets around the world. The findings are based on aggregate sales activity in the Mastercard payments network, coupled with survey-based estimates for certain other payment forms, such as cash and cheque. As such, SpendingPulse™ insights do not in any way contain, reflect or relate to actual Mastercard operational or financial performance, or specific payment-card-issuer data; insights and forecast are subject to change.    

About Mastercard (UK)

Mastercard is a global technology company in the payments industry. Our mission is to connect and power an inclusive, digital economy that benefits everyone, everywhere by making transactions safe, simple, smart and accessible. Using secure data and networks, partnerships and passion, our innovations and solutions help individuals, financial institutions, governments and businesses realize their greatest potential. With connections across more than 210 countries and territories, we are building a sustainable world that unlocks priceless possibilities for all.