The latest data from Visa’s Irish Consumer Spending Index indicates a +4.0% increase in household spending year-on-year in January. The index, which measures expenditure across all payment types (cash, cheques and electronic payments), shows a rate of growth still below the average seen since the series began in September 2014.
A divergence in performance between online spending and expenditure on the high street continues, with face-to-face spending decreasing -0.7% year-on-year. This marginal reduction is the fourth in as many months.
In contrast, eCommerce continues to record strong growth in expenditure. Spending was up +12.3% year-on-year, with the rate of expansion in double-digits for the sixth month running despite easing to the weakest growth since July last year.
All but one of the eight monitored sectors sees a spending increase over the year to January, the exception being Clothing & Footwear. This category recorded a -1.9% decline. This is the fifth decline in the past six months, following a fractional improvement in December.
The sharpest increase in expenditure was seen in Transport & Communication, the third successive month in which this has been the case. Spending in the sector has grown +10.8% year-on-year at the start of the year, broadly in line with that seen in December.
Both the Hotels, Restaurants & Bars and Recreation & Culture categories have posted solid increases in spending, with a +6.7% rise in the amount consumers spend on nights out and hotel accommodation, as well as a +5.4% increase on items like cinema and theatre tickets. Food & Drink spending increased (+3.1%) for the second month running in January, and expenditure in the Household Goods category was up +4.0% year-on-year.
Philip Konopik, Country Manager, Ireland, Visa said: “As the divergence between the growth of face-to-face and e-commerce spend continues, the Clothing & Footwear sector remains the most affected. With five months of decline over the past half year, it is reflective of the shift consumers have made to online shopping with UK retailers, benefitting from the weak sterling exchange rate. The challenge for Irish retailers will be to put measures in place over the coming months in order to differentiate their offers and encourage consumers back to the high street, as well as to their own websites.”
Andrew Harker, Senior Economist at IHS Markit said: “The pick-up in the rate of growth in January provides some reassurance that the recent slowdown in the pace of expansion has come to an end, after December had seen the slowest rise in spending for 27 months. Other timely data such as business survey figures, unemployment data and consumer confidence numbers also suggest a more positive start to the year.”
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