BRITONS loosened their purse-strings and increased their spending in April thanks to the warmer weather and a late Easter, with discounters reaping most of the rewards, according to new data released yesterday.
Figures from Barclaycard, which processes nearly half of the UK’s debit and credit transactions, showed spending rose 3.7 per cent last month compared with the same time last year.
However Barclaycard’s chief executive warned that the figure could be a “seasonal blip” that is as likely to reflect the better weather and long Easter weekend as an improvement in the economy.
“Lack of wage growth has acted as a brake on consumer spending for a long time and, though there are signs that it could finally be improving, until we see several months of real wage increases, consumers will likely remain cautious with their spending, with growth remaining uneven in the coming months,” she said.
Spending at discount stores soared by 30 per cent while average transaction values fell five per cent as consumers continued to trade down.
But supermarkets and clothing retailers also enjoyed strong growth in spending – up 8.9 per cent and 13.8 per cent respectively – while department store sales rose 4.1 per cent.
The biggest gains among all retailers were in family clothing – up 21.3 per cent – and garden centres, where spending rose by 20.2 per cent.
With more consumers hitting the high street, growth in online spending slowed to 5.8 per cent compared with 6.4 per cent in March – the lowest level seen this year.
However this was still ahead of spending in stores – up 3.1 per cent – with men’s clothing and DIY stores enjoying the strongest growth online.