Despite overall expenditure falling by -1.2% last month (January), Visa’s latest UK Consumer Spending Index today (12 February) revealed another positive month for hotels, restaurants and bars – spending up +3.7% year-on-year.

Explaining “the first January drop since 2013,” Visa chief commercial officer, Mark Antipof, said: “Consumer spending entered the New Year on a downbeat note, falling for the eighth time in the past nine months, as Britons continued to cut back on spending.

“It wasn’t all doom and gloom though. Britons tackled the January blues with evenings out and early holiday bookings, giving a boost to hotels, restaurants and bars.”

Of the eight categories monitored, only three started the year off with an increase in expenditure – health and education (+1.4%), miscellaneous goods and services (+6.1%) and hotels, restaurants and bars (+3.7). Food and drink retailers meanwhile saw spending fall by -1.8%, following on from the slight increase (+0.3%) in December.

Citing “weak consumer confidence, sustained squeeze on real earnings, declining purchasing powers, uncertainty around Brexit negotiations and signs of a slowing UK economy” all as factors, Visa said: “Following on from a generally poor performance over 2017 as a whole, UK household expenditure continued to decline on an annual basis at the start of 2018.

“The pace of reduction quickened slightly since December, with spending falling by +1.2% year-on-year in January. The latest drop marks the eighth time in the past nine months that expenditure has fallen.”

Annabel Fiddes, principal economist at IHS Markit added: “Latest Visa UK CSI data signaled a disappointing start to the year, with consumer spending falling for the fifth month in a row on an annual basis.

“This suggests the weak expenditure trends in 2017 have carried through into 2018, as households continue to face rising living costs and lacklustre wage growth.