FICO, the analytics software company, has published its ‘FICO UK Credit Card Market Report for September 2023’ revealing that credit card spend is up from last year, with cash sales diminishing 5.8 per cent in the same time frame.
The research comes from client reports generated by the FICO TRIAD customer management solution. It found that in September 2023, credit card spend was, on average, £805; £30 more than in September 2022 and almost £100 (£95) more than in September 2021.
Commenting on the findings FICO said: “Following a yo-yo summer of consumer spending and credit card management, September 2023 saw the average spend on credit cards fall slightly, albeit it remains higher than the previous year. With the festive season approaching and advertisers ramping up their spending push, it’s likely spending will rise in November and December, although the question will be how much, given the other well-documented financial pressures consumers are facing.”
In the past two years, December’s credit card spend has been £50 more than September’s figures. If this year and next year follow the same trend, consumers could be spending around £900 using credit cards in December 2024 on average.
However, lenders should be wary. There has been year-on-year growth of 9.3 per cent, 10.7 per cent and 17.9 per cent in the percentage of accounts missing one, two and three payments respectively. When looking at singular payments missed, September 2023 was a stark increase compared to August of the same year as there was a 13.5 per cent increase in missed payments.
FICO added: “For those customers missing two payments, the average balance has marginally decreased by 0.6% month-on-month at £2,605, but this has been trending upwards over the last few months.”
Rising card balances
The analytics software company also said: “Driven by the increase in spending, there has been a slight monthly increase in average credit card balances. There has also been an increase in the number of customers missing payments, illustrating that the ongoing economic volatility continues to impact consumer spending. Inflationary pressures and a weak economic outlook mean average balances are likely to continue an upward trend, remaining higher than last year for some months to come.”
In fact, the average credit card balance remained relatively stable compared to August, at £1,735, but continued the longer-term upward trend with a year-on-year increase of 8.6 per cent.
In May 2022, the percentage of payments to balance peaked at 42 per cent. Since then, there has been a downward trend and it currently stands at 38 per cent. This follows up-and-down movements since a two-year low in April 2023.
Return of cash?
The research also revealed that more and more cash has been used since March 2023. This upward trend continued in September as there was a 1.6 per cent month-on-month increase and a 4.3 per cent increase year-on-year. However, despite a rising proportion of cash sales to total sales in September 2023, when compared to the month prior, looking at the larger picture, the total number of cash sales to total sales has dropped 5.8 per cent since September 2022.