By Daniel Hunter

The coldest Easter Sunday on record has changed — but failed to dampen — the nation’s Easter spending habits. Overall consumer spend was up 8.2% this Easter compared to Easter last year, but many of us battened down the hatches from spring snowfall and stayed inside, according to consumer spend on Barclaycard debit and credit cards.

Both in-store and online sales were up this Easter. However, while there was a 6.4% increase in in-store sales, bad weather drove consumers to shop online, resulting in online sales rocketing by 16.5% compared to last Easter. This is the highest growth rate so far in 2013.

The Easter bank holiday is traditionally the time to buy a summer wardrobe, new garden furniture and get to grips with the DIY, but this year’s bad weather meant a buck to these trends. Garden centres were the hardest hit, with spend plummeting by 45.2% and spend falling at DIY stores by 14.8% compared to last Easter.

The in-store retailing sector was also hit hard, with overall clothing spend down by 5.0% and department store spend down by 2.3% compared to Easter last year. However, despite in-store sales suffering substantially due to the wintry weather, online sales for these categories were solid, with online clothing spend actually up by 16.5% and online department store spend up by 18.3% compared to last Easter.

For those who were brave enough to venture outside their houses, it was mainly for indoor activities; with entertainment spend up 6.0% on last Easter. This included a 17.5% rise in cinema and theatre sales and a 5.9% rise in restaurant spend.

Many Brits decided to instead flee to warmer climates, with spend on travel up by 6.0% compared to last Easter, and airline spend in particular up by 17.5%.

“Despite experiencing the coldest Easter Sunday on record, the good news is it didn’t completely dampen the nation’s spending habits," Dave Chan, Chief Executive of Barclaycard Consumer Europe, said.

"However, we haven’t seen the usual Easter uplift in garden centre and DIY sales, as the bad weather meant they fell drastically compared to 2012 when we enjoyed unseasonably warm weather.

“Despite the retailing sector being hit the hardest, online sales for these categories were up — and by quite a significant amount. This significant shift to online will have had a major impact on retailer’s forecasted in-store Easter sales. Multi-channel retailers are in a significantly stronger position to adapt to changing consumer spending trends — whether this be through personal choice, or a simple change in the weather.”

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