New customer spend data* from Virgin Money shows customers have been making the most of the longer days, with a considerable increase in spending on eating out and holidays between March and May 2023, compared to the previous year. While it’s no surprise that customers are spending more in general in 2023, as inflation has remained high over the last nine months, the marked increase across non-essential/lifestyle spend is an indication that consumer confidence has been creeping up ahead of summer.
The figures, which mark the first in a new series of seasonal customer spend trends from Virgin Money, show customers spent a total of £928 million on lifestyle spend this spring, including on eating out, holidays, style, wellbeing, entertainment, keeping fit and staying away, which is up 19% from £777 million for spring 2022. The number of transactions relating to lifestyle spend also increased year on year, rising 16% between spring 2022 and spring 2023.
Brits were evidently in the mood for sunshine and something to look forward to, as holiday spend saw the biggest increase year on year. With travel back to normal after a few bumpy years due to Covid-19, people are keen to make up for lost time with what have been called ‘revenge holidays’. The total amount spent on holidays in spring rose by 40%, up from £98.2 million (March-May 2022) to £137.6 million (March-May 2023). Holiday spend also saw the biggest increase when looking at customer spend data from winter (December 2022-February 2023) vs spring 2023 – the total spent on holidays across winter was £94 million, so the spring data shows a seasonal increase of 47%, or £43.7 million.
All age groups showed an increase year on year when it comes to holiday spend, with those aged between 18 and 25 showing the biggest increase, spending 60% more on holidays this spring compared to last spring – a total of £9.3 million. Customers aged between 46 and 55 showed a 40% increase, spending a total of £30.2 million, while those aged between 56 and 65 spent the most on holidays this spring – a total of £35.9 million, up by 39% on spring 2022.
It seems the additional bank holidays and May celebrations also had a positive impact on the food and drink sector, as spend on eating out grew 20% in spring 2023, compared to the previous year. In spite of increased pressure on consumers from higher prices and rising interest rates, customers spent £278.3 million dining out between March and May 2023, up from £231.7 million in 2022. The most recent spring data also shows an increase of 11% on spend on eating out over winter – a total of £250.7 million was spent in bars and restaurants between December 2022 and February 2023. On the other hand, customers are spending less on style and wellbeing this spring compared to last winter. Spend on style has decreased by 5%, down by £6.3 million, and spend on wellbeing has seen a very slight decline, down by £312,000 this spring compared to winter, which suggests people are reprioritising where and what they spend on.
Ruth Brougham, head of digital banking at Virgin Money, said “Our customers chose to spend more on lifestyle this spring, with eating out and holidays seeing the biggest increases from last year, as they value sharing experiences with friends and family. “We understand times remain tough for many people at the moment, and we continue to provide our customers with tools to help them manage their budget in a way that works for them so that they can make the most of their money – both now and in the future.” The Virgin Money mobile banking app is packed full of clever tools to help customers budget, top up savings and track their transactions to help people feel in control of their money.
About the research
*Customer spend data sourced from Virgin Money current account customers who have actively spent in one or more of the lifestyle categories. Lifestyle categories include eating out, holidays, style, wellbeing, entertainment, keeping fit and staying away.