Furniture store card spending down in April

Consumer card spending in furniture stores declined during April when compared to last year, says new data from Barclays.

According to the latest Barclays Consumer Spending Index, which includes both debit and credit cards, furniture store spending growth declined 3.1% – down for a fourth consecutive month this year, while transaction growth also fell 2.5% against the same month last year. This also marked a fourth month of decline during 2023.

Home improvement and DIY stores saw spending growth fall 6.1%, with transaction growth down 2.3%. Department stores saw spending growth increase 3.5%, with transaction growth also up by 6.3%. Discount stores saw declines of 2% and 0.8% respectively.

Overall, consumer card spending grew just 4.3% year-on-year in April – less than half the latest CPIH inflation rate of 8.9% but slightly higher than March (4%) – as rising costs continue to place pressure on Brits’ finances. However, the arrival of spring and the Easter Bank Holiday weekend fuelled growth at pubs and sports & outdoor retailers, while ticket sales for the Eurovision Song Contest in Liverpool boosted the entertainment sector.

Esme Harwood, Director at Barclays, said: “The arrival of slightly warmer weather, along with the Easter Bank Holiday weekend, led to more Brits venturing outside to enjoy social and leisure activities in April.

“Entertainment received a boost, as music fans rushed to book tickets to the Eurovision Song Contest in Liverpool. Meanwhile, Brits are still searching for ways to reduce spend on essentials, so they can enjoy experiences such as holidays, shows and concerts.”

Abbas Khan, UK Economist at Barclays, said: “High inflation continues to squeeze real household disposable incomes and constrain consumption. However, this has been somewhat offset by the decline in wholesale energy prices and the price cap on household energy bills, which are contributing to an improvement in consumer confidence.

“The data suggests that pockets of the economy, particularly the leisure sector, enjoyed some renewed momentum in April. Going forward, while energy bills are set to fall from Q3, higher mortgage rates cloud the outlook as households continue to refinance at significantly higher rates through the year.”

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