Some shoppers were undeterred by the March snow storms and continued to visit the pub, according to the latest spending trends.
Pub takings on food and drink were a bright spot in a somewhat chilly report from Barclaycard showing the lowest level of consumer spending growth for two years.
Poor conditions caused by the Beast from the East took their toll on the high street but it looks like some of the shoppers who did venture out took refuge in the pub.
Although consumer spending slowed to just 2% in March from 3.8% in February, Barclaycard said the bright spots in non-essential spending data could be found in pubs where spending was up 7.7%, and in restaurants, up 7.2%.
Longer term forecast frosty
The favourable findings for pubs and restaurants came with a decidedly frosty dampener from the credit and debit card business, however. It said that despite the good March showing for pubs, it still represented a dip in their growth from 10% in February, and nearly as much of a downturn for restaurants from 9.7% growth in the previous month.
Barclaycard blamed the poor weather, saying 45% of consumers said it led to them reining in their leisure and experience spending.
Pub staff can take comfort, however, from the thought that at least they don’t work in garden centres, which saw the biggest fall, contracting by a record 26.4% as the bad weather dashed any hopes of early planting.
Barclaycard managing director Paul Lockstone said despite the slowdown in March, consumer spending expenditure was broadly stable in the first quarter.
There are signs of stability, if not slight improvement, in the economy. Some 64% of Brits questioned in March said they were confident in their household finances, up 10 percentage points from the month before – and the best reading since October 2017. Likewise, the proportion of those confident in the UK economy rose from 34% in February to 37% last month, a seven-month high.
However, one in three consumers still feel worse off now than they did last year. Compared to 2017, 33% say they are less confident in their ability to save money for a rainy day, and a quarter say the same about covering the cost of a night out.
While a sense of caution remains, 44% of consumers indicate that they have adapted their spending to cope with rising prices.
Although the prevailing rate of inflation slowed slightly last month, almost half of consumers (49%) say they do not plan to change their spending habits any time soon.
The favourable findings for pubs and restaurants came with a decidedly frosty dampener from the credit and debit card business however. It said that despite the good March showing for pubs it still represented a dip in their growth from 10 per cent in February, and nearly as much of a downturn for restaurants, from 9.7 per cent growth in the previous month.