There has been a slight boost in card spend since the start of level 4 lockdown, according to insights from FNB.

However, despite the increase in consumer spending, activity is still averaging significantly lower compared to pre-lockdown levels.

FNB insights also show panic-buying in the three days before the start of national lockdown in March 2020. Over the three days, the bank’s cardholders spent in excess of R4,3-billion stocking up on goods they consider essential.

Raj Makanjee, chief executive of FNB Retail, says: “Since the first announcement of measures to go on a lockdown, consumer spending has been on a roller-coaster. While consumers were panic-buying in the days ahead of lockdown, overall consumer spending since the start of lockdown has been subdued.

“We witnessed a slight increase over the course of level 4 lockdown and expect this trend to continue improving into level 3.”

Chris Labuschagne, CEO of FNB Credit Card, comments: “It’s been particularly interesting to see some of the popular spend buckets during this period. We’ve seen sustained activity in grocery shopping, particularly among merchants which are closer to residential areas compared to shopping malls.

“Some consumers spent on home improvement items as well as tech and digital, presumably for work and/or online schooling or kids entertainment during this period.”

While FNB reports a relative increase in shopping activity, the bank encourages customers to continue managing their money responsibly. Since April 2020, FNB has availed Cashflow relief with three-month payment breaks for qualifying customers.