Dubai: Consumer spending on cards in the UAE increased by 8.33 per cent in the first quarter of 2018 driven by spend on food & entertainment and travel & hospitality categories, according to card spend data from Network International, the leading payment solutions provider in the Middle East and Africa region.

On Wednesday launched Network Index of Consumer Spend (NICS), the first-of-its-kind cards spending index that tracks changes in consumer card spending in the UAE on a quarterly basis. The Index was at 142.47 as compared to 131.51 in the first quarter of 2017.

NICS tracks, measures and analyses consumer card spending across multiple sub-sectors and industries to derive a single index number that illustrates how spending has changed over a particular period.

“As the largest acquirer in the UAE, Network International is strongly positioned to offer exclusive insights into consumer behaviour in the country that can help drive business decisions and strategic campaigns and offer comprehensive insights to a diverse range of industries,” said Simon Haslam, Group CEO of Network International.

Consumer card spending in the UAE continued to increase in the first three months of 2018, with 8.33 per cent growth over the same period in 2017.

The rise in card-spend in the first quarter 2018 was driven by the Food & Entertainment category, in which the value of spending increased by 20.8 per cent over the same period of 2017. Travel & Hospitality made modest gains over the same period with an increase of 1.62 per cent.

Other categories of the NICS witnessed minor decreases in the first quarter of 2018 compared to the first quarter of 2017. Consumer Goods — which integrates spending at shops, supermarkets and department stores were down by -5.17 per cent compared to the first quarter of 2017, but remained in positive territory on the NICS with an index value of 124.24.

Health care spending — which encompasses hospitals, clinics and pharmacies — was virtually constant, with a negative growth of -1.88 per cent over the same quarter last year, and retaining positive velocity on the index.

“The NICS is the first time that relevant and credible spending data from millions of transactions across multiple channels has been used to present an objective view of how much residents and tourists in the UAE are spending and what they are spending on,” said Samer Soliman, Managing Director, Middle East at Network International.

Strong 2017

Consumer card spending in the UAE made a quantum leap in 2017, rising by 14.78 per cent over the previous year, as economic growth prospects were rejuvenated. The growth in 2017 outstripped the increases of 8.37 and 8.47 per cent recorded in 2015 and 2016, respectively. The top three spends were recorded in the categories of Food &Entertainment (which includes spending at restaurants, nightclubs and on entertainment); Health care (including hospitals, clinics and pharmacies); and Consumer Goods (hypermarkets, supermarkets and shops).

Travel & Hospitality (comprising hotels, airlines and travel agents) also registered a sharp increase in spending, unlike its virtually flat performance in the previous year.

Data from Network International showed that for 2017, overall card spending in the UAE increased with the index rising more than 17 points over the previous year to 134.92.