Consumer spending bucks downward trend but worries over household finances grow

The figures were compiled with IHS Markit, and came with a warning that they could be painting a false positive picture because they were skewed by comparisons affected by the EU referendum last year. “The August figure may have been supported by a particularly weak performance this time last year, when expenditure was dampened in the aftermath of the Brexit vote,” said Annabel Fiddes, principal economist at IHS Markit, warning of the “ongoing fragility of household spending”.

She added: “Weaker consumer spending trends highlight the difficulties facing the UK economy.”

While consumers are increasingly reluctant to get out on to the high street and spend, they are more willing to shop online, the data showed. The level of “face-to-face” spending fell for a fourth month running, dropping 2.6pc in August, while e-commerce purchases rose at a rate of 6.5pc.

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