Card spending in Spain is already 27% higher than in 2019


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Card purchases in 2021 were 33% above those of 2020 and were 27% higher than those of 2019, the last prepandemic year, according to data advanced by BBVA Research. The increase in spending no presential (54% compared to 2020 and 63% compared to 2019) exceeded that of face-to-face (25% in one year and 16% compared to 2019). Foreign card transactions rebounded in 2021 (+ 31% face-to-face and + 3% non-face-to-face), but they still continued below the pre-crisis figures (-30% face-to-face and -41% not face-to-face).

The strongest recovery was that of non-face-to-face spending with Spanish cards, which grew by 85% in one year and 125% compared to 2019.

Face-to-face purchases with Spanish cards grew 24% in the year and 20% compared to the prepandemic figure. Regarding spending by sectors, the consumption of other services, food, books and press, household equipment, health and leisure advanced more than the average in 2021. On the other hand, although the 2020 records improved, the activities carried out in society (beauty, fashion, restaurants, travel and accommodation) did not recover the spending levels of 2019.

Face-to-face transactions grew in all provinces in 2021. According to data from BBVA Research, face-to-face purchases exceeded 30% of those made in 2019 in Melilla, Ávila, Cádiz, Orense, Jaén and Ceuta, while at the opposite extreme were the Basque Country, Navarra, the Balearic Islands and La Rioja, with increases of less than 7 %. On the other hand, card cash withdrawals rebounded 11% in 2021, but were still 5% below 2019 levels. All provinces saw their cash withdrawals increase in the year and in half of them the data surpassed those of 2019, with Lugo, Orense and Córdoba in the lead. On the other hand, the cash withdrawals in Melilla, Ceuta and Madrid they did not reach 90% of the 2019 level.

The latest BBVA report on the impact of Covid-19 on consumption in Spain also reveals that card spending during the month of December was 38% higher than in the same period in 2019, two points less than in November, and 31% higher than in 2020, 18 points less than in November.

The lower dynamism of consumption with foreign cards, both face-to-face (+ 4%) and non-face-to-face (-35%), offset the increase in purchases with Spanish cards. Consumer demand was moderated after the Constitution bridge, which boosted spending with Spanish cards, and rebounded in the days before Christmas, although BBVA Research points out that the deterioration of the health crisis reduced purchases with foreign cards.

In December the advance of card transactions led the other services, food and health sectors, while accommodation, beauty, fashion and travel did not reach pre-crisis levels. The sixth wave of the pandemic boosted health spending and moderated it by social consumption activities, such as leisure, restaurants, sports and travel, especially in the face-to-face channel.

Face-to-face transactions exceeded the levels of December 2019 in all provinces, with Ávila, Castellón, Cádiz, Segovia and Huelva leading the way in the expense recovery. Card cash withdrawals, which in November exceeded the pre-crisis figures, were 1% lower in December than those of the same month of 2019.

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