Britons have picked up the pace of their spending after a plunge at the start of the year when the country went back into a third coronavirus lockdown, data published has revealed.
Spending based on debit and credit card purchases handled by the Clearing House Automated Payment System (CHAPS) rose by 10 percentage points the week to 4 March to stand at 83% of its February 2020 average, the Office for National Statistics said.
'Since the substantial fall in spending at the beginning of 2021 that followed the Christmas period and introduction of national lockdowns across the UK, the CHAPS-based indicator of debit and credit card purchases has increased in all four consumption categories,' the ONS said.
Britain's economy is expected to shrink by about 4% in the first three months of 2021 before recovering as the country makes fast progress with its COVID-19 vaccination programme.
The ONS said spending on staples typically rises around the turn of the month and the latest reading was 120% of its February 2020 average, possibly reflecting how people are cooking for themselves more rather than eating out.
Spending categorised as delayable - on items such as clothing or furnishings - social and work-related stood at 66%, 65% and 73% of their levels immediately before the pandemic.
The ONS also said 19% of employees were currently on the government's furlough scheme to protect jobs, broadly unchanged from last week's report.
UK online job adverts, as measured by jobs website Adzuna, were 85% of the level seen in the same week last year, also similar to the proportion seen in the previous week.