The merchant-processing unit of Barclaycard UK in July experienced an almost double-digit increase in spending by its merchant clients’ credit and debit card customers in the United Kingdom compared with the same month last year, challenging the notion that consumer confidence has declined, Barclaycard announced recently.

Card spending both in-store and online at those merchants increased by 9.9% in July, Barclaycard’s Spending Index shows. The company attributes the growth to summer discounts enticing consumers back to stores. Barclaycard declined to provide total spending figures.

Barclaycard bases the spending index on all credit and debit card spending across 44 retail sectors at merchants using Barclaycard Global Payment Acceptance to process their transactions. Barclaycard Global Payment Acceptance processes card payments for 85,000 UK businesses, representing about 30% of the UK market, Barclaycard says.

Since the beginning of this year, year-over-year credit and debit card spending steadily has increased, with July marking the third consecutive month in which the totals have increased by more than 9%, according to Barclaycard.

The latest increase may suggest the opposite of recent reports of a decrease in consumer confidence from the British Retail Consortium’s Index of Consumer Confidence. However, the consortium index suggests that consumer spending at high-end retailers remains strong.

If consumers continue to shop in high-end stores and if spending continues to increase each month, 2010 may prove to be a strong year for many UK merchants. Barclaycard ­predicts.

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