Warm weather and a late Easter are being credited for a surge of consumer spending in April.
The latest spending report from Barclaycard reported a rise in spending of 3.7%, compared to April 2013.
Strong growth was seen in supermarket spending, on clothing and at department stores as households stocked up on food and drink for Easter, updated their wardrobes for spring, and took the opportunity of four days off to go shopping.
Clothing spend grew 13.8%, supermarket spending was up 8.9%, and department stores saw a 4.1% increase.
The increased spending on clothing, in supermarkets and at department stores helped push up in-store spending by 3.1%.
Spending on family clothing – up 21.3%; restaurant spending – up 16.8%; and cinema spending – up 7%, all helped in-store spend see its best performance since last summer.
With more consumers hitting the high street, online spending suffered slightly in April and though it saw growth of 5.8%, this was down from 6.4% in March and the lowest level seen this year.
Although April sales were strong, there is evidence that consumers remain cautious and continue to search for value in every shopping trip they make, pushing down average transaction values by 5% in the year to April.
They are also switching to cheaper alternatives where possible to save money – the Barclaycard Value Index shows spending on discount retailers was up 29.8% in April compared to last year.
Val Soranno Keating, CEO of Barclaycard, said that there are still headwinds facing retailers. “Though many economic indicators continue to paint a positive picture and the talk is of a recovering economy, the improvements are yet to trickle down and positively impact on household budgets. While the growth in spending in April is encouraging, this is as likely to reflect the better weather and the long Easter weekend as any 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.”