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Non-essential spending in December increased, Nationwide says

Non-essential spending increased in the run-up to Christmas despite pressures on living costs, according to Britain’s biggest building society.

Nationwide, which analysed card payments and direct debits made by its members in December, said 8% more non-essential transactions were made in December 2022 than in December 2021.

The value of non-essential spending increased by 9% annually in December, which was slightly below the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) rate of inflation at 10.5% in December.

The volume and value of non-essential transactions also increased compared with November, by 4% and 7% respectively.

Non-essential spending includes categories such as airline travel and holidays, leisure and recreation, digital goods, subscriptions and spending in department stores.

Nationwide’s spending data suggests members also had more essential costs to cover at the end of 2022, with the number of essential transactions up by 9% compared with December 2021.

Essential spending includes rent, mortgage payments, loan repayments, supermarket bills, childcare, fuel and utilities among other bills. The value of essential spending increased by 8% annually.

Nationwide also commissioned a Censuswide survey of more than 2,000 people in January.

The survey found more than a fifth (22%) of people said they have more outstanding debt on their credit card this month than in January 2021, rising to 31% of 25 to 44-year-olds.

Nearly seven in 10 (69%) people said they are worried about their personal finances and their ability to cover essential costs. More than a fifth (23%) said they are extremely worried.

Mark Nalder, payments strategy director at Nationwide Building Society, said: “We would always encourage anyone who is struggling financially to contact their bank or building society for support.”

People can also go to helpforhouseholds.campaign.gov.uk to find out about the various Government support schemes available.