Last month saw only a minimal 2.6% year-on-year decline in overall consumer spending, according to new data from Barclaycard.
This marked the smallest decrease since lockdown began, with year-on-year monthly spending on non-essentials jumping from -22.3% in June to only -4.7% in July.
A 3.2% increase in spending on essentials, meanwhile, helped boost the overall figure to a promising -2.6%.
This boost in purchases of essentials was largely driven by supermarket shopping, Barclaycard said, which rose by 15%, helping to offset a 22.2% drop in fuel spend.
Meanwhile, food and drink specialist stores – including off licences, greengrocers, and independent convenience stores – were up 43.3% and takeaway and fast food by 20.4%.
Barclaycard added: “A hopeful sign for high street retailers can also be seen in that close to four in ten (37%) UK adults are now unconcerned about visiting shops. Perhaps unexpectedly, shoppers aged over 55 are most likely to say they aren’t concerned, with 18-34 year-olds the least likely to feel this way.”
Esme Harwood, director at Barclaycard, said: “Consumer spending has warmed up alongside the weather, as Brits return to the shops for non-essential items. It’s a welcome development for retailers to see spending up across many sectors in the first full month of data since lockdown restrictions started to ease.
“However, a sense of cautiousness still prevails. While some consumers feel more comfortable returning to shops, others are still wary of taking public transport and travelling outside the UK, with fears and uncertainties lingering about returning to normality too quickly.”