IT’S NOT exactly a dramatic rebirth but there are some stirrings of spring in these figures. Unsurprisingly, particularly at a time of year when the national imagination turns to home improvement, UK consumers invested even more this April in their fastest-appreciating assets than they did 12 months before, with DIY spending up 11.9 per cent and garden centres spending up 20.2 per cent. A late Easter and some warm weather helped, but it reflects a wider trend: spending in garden centres is up 22 per cent in the first quarter compared to the year before.
But with wages still under pressure, the big consumer story continues to be the irresistible rise of the discount retailers. According to Barclaycard, there was a 29.8 per cent year-on-year jump in spending in discount stores this April.
That too is the continuation of a much larger story. In the last quarter of 2013, for instance, for the first time more than half of the UK had shopped in either an Aldi or Lidl in that period.
With Aldi’s market share at a record high of 4.6 per cent this April, it is already snapping at the heels of Waitrose, now on five per cent. The economy may be turning a corner, but the established giants of retail are fooling themselves if they think the discounters are not here to stay.