Milton Keynes shoppers welcomed the return of non-essential shops last week with a massive spending spree, figures suggest
Milton Keynes shoppers spent 161% more on average last week than normal– with Primark the most popular shop.
As coronavirus restrictions eased, retailers were allowed to open their doors for the first time since early January.
The banking firm Revolut analysed the data of 15,000 of its customers in Milton Keynes between April 12 and 18, comparing it to the average weekly spend in February 2020, before lockdown started.
The first day of trading saw even higher levels of spending, with 193% more splurged than the average Monday in February of last year.
Retail spending increased 92% across England as a whole, the firm's figures show.
Revolut said the data shows there is strong demand right across the country, with many people eager to spend savings built up since non-essential shops closed on January 5.
Spokesman Nicholas Taylor said: "Importantly, spending was up across the whole week – rather than just the first day – suggesting that consumer confidence is resilient.
"This is great news for the thousands of local pubs, cafes and shops, and the millions of people they employ."
The British Retail Consortium said stores have worked hard to provide customers with a "safe and enjoyable" shopping experience, and it expects footfall to increase as more outlets reopen.
Chief executive Helen Dickinson added: “With case numbers continuing to drop, retailers hope that confidence will return to high streets, shopping centres and retail parks, and encourage UK consumers to release some of the £160 billion saved up during this pandemic.
"By unlocking consumer savings, UK retail has a key role to play in the wider economic recovery.”
With bars lacking outdoor space not able to serve drinks yet, spending in Milton Keynes pubs was 38% down on February last year.
However, the Revolut data suggests pub-goers spent much more than usual when buying rounds.
The average transaction in pubs in the area was £19.45 last week – up 85% on the typical spend across an average week before the pandemic, of £10.54.
Milton Keynes drinkers spent more than the average round across England last week, of £16.03.
Hospitality data specialists at CGA said operational constraints and the unpredictable British weather mean three in four venues in England are still closed.
Karl Chessell, CGA’s business unit director, added: "While some may open over the next few weeks, we will have to wait another four weeks until it is feasible for many hospitality venues to reopen again.
"Until then, operators deserve support from local authorities to make the most of outdoor trading space – not to mention some sunshine.”