Credit card supplier says domestic spending on British Visa cards is up 3.4%
Reports that consumer spending in Britain has crashed as a result of the Olympics look to have been largely unfounded, according to Visa figures that show spending marginally up during the first week of the Games.
The credit card supplier said domestic spending on British Visa cards reached £7.4bn last week, up 3.4% on the previous seven days, but only a modest increase of £200m on the same week in 2011.
Spending on cards by international visitors in the UK in the same period rose to £456.9m, an 8% increase on the same week in 2011. Despite reports from retailers and restaurants in London that business has been massively down on previous summers, Visa said spending on its cards by tourists in restaurants across the country was up 19.6% last week to £12.7m.
It seems Usain Bolt hasn’t been alone in hitting the capital’s nightclubs, with Visa saying such spending among foreign cardholders was up 24% to £2.1m last week. Despite the late nights, visitors are still finding time for sightseeing: card spending on attractions and exhibitions was up 12%, it said.
A spokesman for Visa said there was a big uptake in domestic spending during the second half of the week as Brits realised you could travel into London and watch some Olympic events even without a ticket.
American visitors splashed the most non-UK cash during the first week of the Games – £58m – followed by Japanese tourists (£30m) and French and Italian visitors, suggesting the euro crisis hasn’t reduced all spending.
Australians, boosted by their strong currency, have been hitting the capital’s venues in big numbers, spending £22.5m in the first week of the games.
Last week, theatres and restaurants in London’s West End complained about a huge drop in customers. Footfall was down almost 5%, while London mayor Boris Johnson admitted the Games were having a “patchy” effect on some businesses.
Despite the increased spending, the Games still look to be falling behind expectations. A year ago Visa said consumer spending would soar by £750m during the Games, and deliver a sustained boost to the British economy of £5.1bn.
Spending in Olympic host countries is notoriously hard to predict. At the Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 Olympics consumer spending was approximately half the forecast level for London 2012, while at the Beijing Games overseas visitors parted with just £93m during the whole of the games.