Black Friday and national lockdown behind spike in online spending in November

  • Online transactions in November 2020 reached their highest proportion of total card spending since the first UK-wide lockdown, accounting for 38 per cent of total spending value.
  • The volume of contactless payments dropped sharply by 17.6 per cent compared with October, as more people stayed at home due to second national lockdown.
  • However, the total value of contactless transactions was 43.7 per cent higher than November 2019, driven by the increased contactless payment limit.
  • The annual growth rate of outstanding balances on credit cards fell by 15.7 per cent in the year to November, the steepest fall over a twelve-month period since the pandemic began.

Card spending data published today by UK Finance reveals that online spending across credit and debit cards last November reached a proportion not seen since the first lockdown, in a month which included Black Friday sales and new coronavirus restrictions across the UK. 

Online card spending accounted for 38 per cent of the total value of credit and debit card spending in the UK in November 2020 - worth over £22 billion - compared with 33 per cent in October. The average value of online transactions crept up to over £82 compared to £73 in November 2019, as larger purchases moved online. 

The number of contactless payments dropped sharply month-on-month, declining by 17.6 per cent compared with October, as people remained at home due to Covid-19 restrictions and therefore had fewer opportunities for spending in pubs, restaurants and on public transport. The total value of contactless transactions was £9.9 billion during November, a 17.2 per cent decrease from October. However, this was a 43.7 per cent increase on November 2019, as people continued to take advantage of the higher £45 payment limit. 

In total, 1.5 billion debit and credit card transactions were made in the UK in November, reaching a total value of £58.8 billion. This reflected a drop of 11.6 per cent in the number of transactions compared to October, and was 12.4 per cent fewer than in November 2019, reflecting an overall decline in spending as people adjusted to the new restrictions. 

UK Finance data also shows that outstanding balances on credit card accounts fell by 15.7 per cent in the year to November. This was the fourth successive month in which repayments have outstripped borrowing, and the largest drop over a twelve-month period since the pandemic began. This can be attributed to people choosing to pay off debt or reduced usage of credit facilities. 

Eric Leenders, Managing Director of Personal Finance, UK Finance, said: 

Last November saw stricter coronavirus restrictions put in place across the country, just as the Christmas shopping season kicked off and the Black Friday sales arrived. This led to a rise in the share of online card spending, reaching levels not seen since the first lockdown, while contactless spending fell as people remained at home and reduced their travel.  

?Meanwhile the trend of people choosing to pay off credit card debt or make less use of credit card facilities continued as repayments outstripped lending for the fourth month in a row.

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Notes to editor

<ol><li>For more information please call the UK Finance Press Office on 020 7416 6750 or e-mail <a href=""></a&gt;. </li>
<li>UK Finance is the collective voice for the banking and finance industry. Representing more than 250 firms across the industry, we act to enhance competitiveness, support customers and facilitate innovation. </li>
<li>Full data tables are available <a href="…;
<li>The banking and finance industry has put in place a clear plan to help Britain through</li>
</ol><ul><li>2.75 million <a href="… payment deferrals</a></li>
<li><a href="… million interest-free overdrafts </a>offered, 1.18 million payment deferrals on credit cards and over 828,000 payment deferrals on personal loans. </li>
<li>Nearly £71 billion of lending to over 1.5 million businesses through government Covid-19 lending schemes</li>
<li>Protecting customers from <a href="… and fraud</a></li>
<li>Higher limit for <a href="… payments</a> </li>
</ul><ol><li value="5">Please note that data on UK cardholders is different to data on card activity in the UK. Data on UK cardholders refers to transactions made either inside the UK or overseas on cards issued to UK residents and reported by card issuers. Data on card activity in the UK refers to transactions made in the UK only, both on UK-issued cards and cards issued overseas, this data is provided by acquirers. </li>
<li>A summary of our annual UK Payment Markets 2020 Report containing detailed analysis of the use of all types of payments in the UK, can be found <a href="…;
<li>The quarterly Household Finance Review containing analysis and economic commentary on household finance in the UK, can be found <a href="…;
<li>The monthly credit card data has been re-stated back to January 2019 to increase our market coverage to 97 per cent providing a more representative picture of the credit card market.</li>