Despite 'bright spots' in food and drink sales, this Easter saw a spending slowdown for UK consumers

Georgina Varley
100 Years Of Manufacturing At Bournville Cadbury Factory
Despite food and drink sales being up nearly 6 per cent, overall consumer spending was poor in April (Source: Getty)

Consumer spending rose at its weakest pace for three months in April.

Growth in consumer spending returned to 0.5 per cent year-on-year, according to Visa’s Consumer Spending Index.

Kevin Jenkins, UK and Ireland managing director at Visa, said: "Consumer spending slowed down further in April, as consumers tightened their belts in the face of rising prices running up against stalling wage growth. Annual spending growth fell back to 0.5 per cent, from an already subdued rate of 1 per cent in March."

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While there was also a slight dip in e-commerce, which is now down by 0.1 per cent, Visa's report details a renewed increase in face-to-face spending, which has risen by 0.3 per cent.

Visa's Consumer Spending Index also highlights that food and drink categories are up 5.9 per cent.

"While overall figures suggest that clouds are gathering over British consumers, there were still some bright spots. Easter and the extended half-term break may have contributed towards a strong uplift of over 9 per cent in the hospitality sector. Meanwhile, Easter eggs and hot cross buns helped food and drink sales rise at their fastest rate in two years, up nearly 6 per cent. This seems to support the claim of some food and drink retailers that Easter is becoming ‘the new Christmas’," Jenkins added.

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Clothing and footwear businesses saw their first sales increases in five months during April as expenditure was up 2.3 per cent, whereas sales of larger items such as furniture goods dipped over the Easter period.

"Clothing and footwear retailers experienced a long-awaited boost as consumers took advantage of mid-season sales or shopped for warmer weather abroad. Spend was up 2.3 per cent, its highest rate since October 2016. In contrast, bargains on big-ticket items such as furniture and white goods over the Easter weekend failed to reverse the fortune of the sector, with sales falling by 3.4 per cent," said Jenkins.

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