Olympic spirit fuels rise in credit card spending

By UK CreditCards.com

The London Olympic Games may be giving a boost to card spending, according to recent numbers from Visa. And with the nation gripped by an ongoing plethora of medals, this trend could continue throughout the Olympic and Paralympic games.

Millions putting Olympic spending on credit cards
Visa debit, credit and prepaid card purchases of food, drink and sporting goods saw a lift during the week of the opening ceremony, compared with the corresponding week (July 23 to July 29) in 2011.

Spending on drink was 8.3% higher (totaling £32.9 million) compared with last year, with many people likely stocking up on beverages to enjoy during Friday's opening ceremony. Combined spending on food and drink increased 7.3% year-on-year, rising to £1.22 billion. olympics_spending

"After seven years, the Games have finally started, and the UK is celebrating with Olympic parties," said Steve Perry, commercial director at Visa Europe, in a statement.

There was also a noticeable increase in spending on sporting goods, with spending on Visa cards up 6.2% (reaching £48.7 million) year-on-year.

Overseas visitors putting their plastic to work
It's not just Britons who are using their Visa cards in London. International visitors spent £445.3 million on Visa cards during the week of the opening ceremony. That gave overall retail spending a 4.2% boost compared with the same week last year. Here's a run-down of the top Visa spenders by country:

1.      United States: £54.6 million

2.      Japan: £32.5 million

3.      France: £26.5 million

4.      Italy £25.2 million

5.      Australia £22.6 million

Although they didn't come close to the United States in terms of overall spending, Japanese tourists took the gold when it came to expensive purchases -- the average transaction value for Japanese visitors was £94.62, compared with the United States' showing of £58.29.

More strong spending to come?
With the Olympics in its final week, it remains to be seen if spenders' stamina will continue. Yet it looks like Olympic fever could fuel continuing splurges. When surveyors asked participants if they planned to spend more during the entire duration of the games, 15% throughout Great Britain said they would likely spend more on food or drink. Those living in Greater London were even more likely to anticipate greater outlays -- especially for meals out.

When it comes to less exciting expenses, however, Britons expect to spend less. Clothes and household goods, according to survey participants, will likely go on the back burner for now.

"The spending intentions figures we have seen suggest that day-to-day considerations have been put on hold with consumers looking to make the most of The Games," Perry said.

See related: Your credit card guide to the London Olympics, Customers have need for speed when it comes to payments

Published: 7 August 2012