Furniture store card spending down in January 2024

Consumer card spending in furniture stores declined during January 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 6.1% – down for a thirteenth consecutive month, while transaction growth was barely positive, up 0.2% against the same month last year.

Home improvement and DIY stores saw spending growth fall 7.7%, with transaction growth down 3.3%. Department stores saw spending growth increase 0.1%, with transaction growth up by 6.9%. Discount stores saw a decline of 8.6% in spend growth, while transaction growth was down 12%.

Overall, consumer card spending grew 3.1% year-on-year in January – less than the latest CPIH inflation rate of 4.2%, yet higher than December’s growth of 2.3%. Retail, hospitality and leisure spending slowed as Brits stayed at home to shelter from the cold weather and save money after a busy festive period. However, pointing to improving optimism, consumers’ confidence in both their household finances and ability to spend within their means reached its highest point in over two years.

Karen Johnson, Head of Retail at Barclays, said: “After a December filled with festive indulgence, Brits took on a more frugal approach in January, choosing to stay at home more often to save money and shelter from the winter weather.

“This meant that online retail performed strongly, as shoppers browsed the sales from the comfort of their sofas, while demand for digital content and takeaways remained robust, boosted by the release of popular new film and TV releases such as ‘The Traitors’ and ‘Fool Me Once’.

“While this shift in behaviour resulted in subdued growth for hospitality and leisure, it’s encouraging that confidence is improving, with consumers remaining resilient and finding savvy ways to manage their finances.”

Jack Meaning, Chief UK Economist at Barclays, said: “Increasing consumer confidence is a positive message for the UK outlook in 2024, as we see inflation continue to fall, real incomes rising and growing signs that interest rate cuts are coming. Spending looks to be on an upward trajectory, set to increase more than inflation in the coming months, which will be an important milestone for consumers and businesses who were squeezed throughout 2023.”

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