Furniture store card spending down in March; DIY boost

Consumer card spending in furniture stores declined again during March 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 5.2% – down for a third consecutive month is year, while transaction growth also fell 5.4% against the same month last year. This also marked a third month of decline during 2023.

Home improvement and DIY stores saw spending growth fall 9%, with transaction growth down 7.5%. Department stores saw spending growth increase 6%, with transaction growth also up by 9%. Discount stores saw declines of 0.4% and 1.6% respectively.

Overall, consumer card spending grew 4% year-on-year in March, less than half the latest CPIH inflation rate of 9.2%, as Brits made further cutbacks to cope with the cost-of-living crunch. Data from Barclays, which sees nearly half of the nation’s credit and debit card transactions, revealed an encouraging return to traditional seasonal shopping trends – for example, home improvement and DIY stores enjoyed a month-on-month rise of 4.3%, as more consumers started to spruce up their homes and gardens in preparation for the warmer months.

Silvia Ardagna, Head of European Economics Research at Barclays, said: “Inflation remains stubbornly high, with food and beverage prices up notably in February, and driving the sharp acceleration in prices set by restaurants and hotels.

“In this light, it is not surprising that consumers are moderating spending in these categories. But, with the decline in energy prices, we also expect a fast deceleration in food prices, which should provide some support to households’ consumption, and allow the UK to experience just a mild recession in H1 23.”

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