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Warm weather loosens consumer purse strings in April

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DARTFORD, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 02: Shoppers walk on the High Street on September 2, 2013 in Dartford, England. High Street campaigner Mary Portas is today facing questions from Members of Parliament on the communities and local government select committee. The traditional high street is under increasing pressure due to the recession and the rise of on-line shopping. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

Milder temperatures and sunny weather are partly responsible for consumers spending 2.5% more year-on-year in April, despite continuing challenges in the retail sector.

Essential expenditure grew by 6% last month while spending on non-essential goods rose just over 1%.

Garden centres, some of which feature concession jewellery stores, were boosted by the unseasonably higher temperatures last month contributing to a 16% rise in spending.

The Brexit delay, along with warmer weather over the Easter weekend, may be contributing factors to a slight increase in consumer confidence, Barclaycard said.

It said that April saw a rise to 33% of consumers feeling confident in the UK economy, compared to 26% in March.

Furthermore, over a quarter of Brits admitted the sunshine in April had encouraged increased expenditure.

Looking forward, many continue to remain cautious with their money, as 60% expect no change to their spending plans for May. In addition, only one in ten suggested they are likely to spend on big-ticket items due to the delay in Brexit, indicating consumers remain hesitant to loosen their purse strings.

Esme Harwood, director at Barclaycard, remarks: “Warmer temperatures, especially over the Easter weekend, led many consumers to spend on experiences and dining out. Overall consumer spending in April has remained relatively modest, with the retail sector continuing to struggle.

“While the Brexit delay seems to have brought some short-term relief to consumer confidence, it’s clear that many shoppers still remain cautious about making any big-ticket purchases such as holidays, a new car or investing in home improvements.”

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