Consumer card spending ‘increases marginally’ in January as shoppers cut costs

Consumer card spending grew by only 3.1 per cent in January 2024, less than the latest consumer prices index including house (CPIH) inflation rate of 4.2 per cent and more than December’s growth of 2.3 per cent.

According to data from Barclays, consumer spending on retail, hospitality and leisure slowed as people stayed home due to cold weather and attempted to save money after a busy festive period.

Despite the cutback in spending, the bank said consumer confidence in both household finances and the ability for people to spend within their means had risen to its highest point in over two years.

Growth in supermarket spending increased to 5.2 per cent, a rise from 2.8 per cent in December, with Barclays attributing this to consumers returning to regular routines post-Christmas.

Barclays said that around two thirds of shoppers are looking to reduce the cost of their weekly shop, with a further 47 per cent turning to loyalty schemes and vouchers to do so.

Analysis from the bank also found that 39 per cent of customers shop at multiple supermarkets to source a range of deals, while around a fifth are cutting back on more expensive items such as meat and fish.

Its study revealed that 16 per cent of shoppers have been buying discounted festive food to save money.

"After a December filled with festive indulgence, Brits took on a more frugal approach in January, choosing to stay at home more often to save money and shelter from the winter weather,” said Karen Johnson, head of retail at Barclays. “This meant that online retail performed strongly, as shoppers browsed the sales from the comfort of their sofas, while demand for digital content and takeaways remained robust, boosted by the release of popular new film and TV releases such as ‘The Traitors’ and ‘Fool Me Once.’

“While this shift in behaviour resulted in subdued growth for hospitality and leisure, it’s encouraging that confidence is improving, with consumers remaining resilient and finding savvy ways to manage their finances.”

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