Centenary celebrations contribute to consumer spending increase

Finance | Mon 11 Apr | Author – Business & Finance
1916 rising Irish Defence Forces

The latest data for Visa Europe’s Consumer Spending Index for Ireland showed a continued solid growth in spending to close out the first quarter of 2016.

Spending was up 5.6% year-on-year across all payment types. This represented a slowdown from the +11.3% increase seen in February, when the extent of the rise had been flattered by the extra trading day as a result of 2016 being a leap year coupled with additional Valentine’s Day spending.

Despite slowing, the rate of growth in consumer spending is broadly in line with the average recorded since the series began in September 2014.

Poor weather in March including Storm Jake and Storm Katie saw Irish people shopping from the convenience of their homes and smartphones. The rate of growth in ecommerce expenditure continued to outpace that of high-street transactions with +9.5% year-on-year increases for ecommerce versus +3.8% for high-street transactions.

Tourist attractions and exhibitions, cinema ticket sales and hobbies and game stores all saw a surge in sales as parents and children made the most of the time off.

Adding to the strong performance was the various events taking place across the country in celebration of the 1916 centenary, which saw huge numbers of families in attendance.

Philip Konopik, country manager, Ireland, Visa Europe, said: Our latest data shows that whilst we experienced a slowdown in spending growth we enter the second quarter of 2016 on a strong upward growth pattern. The multitude of well attended events taking place throughout the country in respect to the 1916 celebrations led to strong spending growth in the recreation and culture sector, while adverse weather and storms led to an increase in online shopping.”

Andrew Harker, senior economist, Markit, added: “The rate of expansion in March is actually in line with the trend across the 19-month series so far and so can be judged a further solid outcome. Looking at the first quarter as a whole, Visa Europe’s Irish Consumer Spending Index suggests that we can expect to see further growth of GDP and official consumer spending when these data are released later in the year.”

Photo: Irish Defence Forces