The Spend-Trend Economy Is Beginning to Gain Momentum

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Consumer spending grew slightly in April, boosted by increased confidence in the economy, along with a rise in job creation and pent-up demand.

Spending rose by 4.1%, according to analysis from First Data, the Atlanta-based payment technology and services solutions company. Warmer weather and the Easter holiday shifting into April this year resulted in the uptick compared to March's growth of 3.1%.

Higher year-over-year tax refunds and the modest pick-up in inflation, especially in energy and food, also contributed to the growth, said Krish Mantripragada, svp of information and analytics solutions at First Data.

The use of debit cards in April rose by 8.6% while the number of pre-paid cards used for sales increased by 6.9%, followed by a rise of 4.3% in credit card use.

"Overall spending growth was strong and gained momentum over March as the return of warmer weather encouraged consumers to get out and shop," he said. "Consumer confidence and job creation also bounced back, which put consumers in the mood to release their pent-up demand from the extended winter. We also saw debit spending growth continue to rise, due in large part to higher tax refund values and volumes through April."

Transaction growth increased by 3.5% compared to March's 2.7% growth, supported by higher gas prices, an uptick in job creation and a lift in consumer confidence. Since gas prices surpassed last year's levels, spending at gas stations rose by 3.3%, marking the highest growth since July 2013.

Spending at clothing and accessories stores increased by 1.2% and purchases at health and personal care stores rose slightly by 0.2% compared to declines to 5.0% at clothing stories and 2.4% in health stores as shoppers visited these merchants for candy, Easter-themed toys and spring apparel.