Consumers spending ‘on their own terms’

Consumer spending nudged up on the back of heavy discounting, new figures from Barclaycard show - but many people remain very cautious with their money.

The latest spending monitor from Barclaycard found that spending rose 3.8% in January, with much of the growth achieved from big January sale discounting. It continues the theme of some commentators who have suggested that consumers are prioritizing bigger ticket spending at the moment.

But confidence in personal finances fell sharply, with those feeling more confident about them than a few months ago dropping from 34% to 24%. 30% say they feel less confident about the economy than they did at the start of 2016. Four in ten (42%) expect the global economy to deteriorate over the next three months.

The restaurant sector fared better than most in Barclaycard’s survey, with spending there up 13.5%.

Barclaycard’s figures are based on card transactions. Managing director Paul Lockstone said: “Consumers took advantage of the steep discounts to buy big-ticket items such as furniture or white goods, and it’ll be interesting to see if February spending is much more muted as a result of this ‘stock-up’ mentality. It seems the downbeat news about the economy is taking a toll on consumer sentiment, however, with many shoppers reporting that they are less confident about the economy and, as a result, about their own financial prospects. Consumers will continue to place value for money front and centre when making purchasing decisions—they are willing to spend, but on their own terms.”