Furniture store card spending down in May

Consumer card spending in furniture stores declined during May 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 5.6% – down for a fifth consecutive month this year, while transaction growth also fell 4.3% against the same month last year. This also marked a fifth month of decline during 2023.

Home improvement and DIY stores saw spending growth fall 4.3%, with transaction growth up 0.1%. Department stores saw spending growth increase 1.9%, with transaction growth also up by 5.8%. Discount stores saw increases of 5% and 0.2% respectively.

Overall, consumer card spending grew just 3.6% year-on-year in May – less than half the latest CPIH* inflation rate of 7.8 per cent and lower than April (4.3%) – as Brits cut back on discretionary purchases to cope with mounting inflation and food prices. However, May’s long bank holiday weekends provided a welcome uplift to pubs, bars and clubs and the entertainment sector, while both digital content and takeaways enjoyed their highest growth so far this year.

Esme Harwood, Director at Barclays, said: “Consumers are still paying close attention to their everyday spending, and we are seeing growing concerns around “shrinkflation” in the weekly shop.

“Many are having to forgo discretionary purchases to offset rising food prices, with clothing and restaurants most impacted. However, the growth witnessed at pubs, airlines and entertainment venues shows that Brits are still finding room in the budget to enjoy nights out and holidays.”

Silvia Ardagna, Head of European Economics Research at Barclays, said: “Although the latest headline figures show that inflation has fallen due to lower energy prices, the prices of core services and goods remain stubbornly high and continue to constrain real household disposable income and spending.

“The UK economy has escaped a technical recession for now, but the forward-looking outlook remains one in which the economy is likely to stagnate as the impact of monetary tightening will more than offset the relief from lower energy prices.”

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