Consumer spending in East of England grew by 3.7% in May

Rob Harris, Barclays' eastern region managing director for community banking.

Rob Harris, Barclays' eastern region managing director for community banking. - Credit: Archant

The fall of inflation into negative territory, stronger wage growth and a record number of people in employment helped push consumer spending in the East of England nearly 4% higher last month.

Data from Barclaycard, which processes nearly half of all card transactions in the UK, shows that consumer spending nationally grew by 4.2% compared with a year earlier, with the East of England figure slightly lower at 3.7%.

The figures indicate that falling prices in supermarkets helped families boost spending elsewhere, with spending on non-essential items rising by 6.2% – including growth of 28.5% for cinemas, 16.7% for restaurants and 14% for pubs – while spending on essential items fell by 1.4%.

There was also strong growth in spending on furniture (up 9%), electronics (8.7%), travel (7.7%), hotels, up (5.7%), and airlines (3.6%).

Within the retail sector, discount stores were the big winner, with growth of 11% year-on-year , but department stores saw the rate of growth slow to 3% and spending on clothing grew by only 0.9%.

Rob Harris, Barclays’ managing director for community banking in the eastern region, said: “With the wider economic context moving in their favour, the clear election result removing some of the lingering uncertainty of how household budgets might fare in the future, and deflation providing further opportunity to cut the cost of essentials, consumers have been quick to make the most of their increased spending power.

“Spending on entertainment and leisure, as well as bigger ticket items such as furniture, electronics and holidays was all up strongly in May. Consumers’ feeling of confidence is leading to them spending more on the enjoyable things in life.”