Consumer spending across Europe rose 9% in the
first quarter of 2010 compared to the first quarter of 2009,
according to the
Visa European Spending Trends report,
further evidence that the
economic recovery is gaining momentum.

According to the survey, total spend on Visa
cards in Europe amounted to €230bn ($281.5bn) in the first quarter
of 2010, pushing the annual rate of increase up from 11.7% in the
final quarter of 2009 to 16.4%.

Even after allowing for an increase in the
number of Visa cards issued, the latest data points to a 9%
year-on-year increase in spend.

Spending is therefore currently increasing at
a quicker rate than prior to the recession when it peaked at 5.8%
at the end of 2007.

There has been a steady decline in the average
transaction value (ATV) on cards in recent years due to growing
consumer and retailer preference for the use of cards in low-value

The impact of the recession has accelerated
this trend however, as rises in unemployment, weak employee
earnings growth and heavy price discounting all had an impact on

“Consumer spending was hit hard by the
recession but has bounced back surprisingly quickly. Growth is now
faster than it was before the recession,” said Steve Perry,
commercial director at Visa Europe.

“This is very positive for the health of the
European economy as a whole as consumer spending is such an
important engine of growth.”