LONDON - British consumers ramped up their spending on golf, picnics and other newly permitted outdoor activities last week as some coronavirus restrictions were lifted, payments firm Barclaycard said on Wednesday.
Golf courses, tennis courts and open-air swimming pools reopened in England on March 29, and a ban on non-essential travel was lifted, though most shops, pubs, restaurants and hotels remain closed.
Face-to-face spending in the leisure and entertainment sector grew by 136% compared with the previous week and spending at golf courses jumped 370%.
Outdoor gatherings such as picnics were probably behind a 9% rise in contactless transactions over the past week as people paid for picnics, Barclaycard said.
"This is a strong indication of the pent-up demand for returning to pre-pandemic activities, like seeing friends and family and enjoying outdoor sport," Rob Cameron, chief executive of Barclaycard Payments, said.
However, the total value of leisure and entertainment spending was down 35% compared to the same week two years ago, before the onset of the pandemic.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday that his plan to allow non-essential shops to reopen and pubs and restaurants to serve people outdoors from April 12 in England was on track.
The Bank of England is watching closely for signs of how much households spend of the savings which some have racked up over three lockdowns during the past year.
(Writing by William Schomberg, editing by David Milliken) ((email@example.com; +44 207 542 7778; Reuters Messaging: firstname.lastname@example.org))