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Irish consumer expenditure saw minimal growth in March

Written by Robert McHugh, on 16th Apr 2018. Posted in Ireland

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Visa’s Irish Consumer Spending Index, which measures expenditure across all payment types (cash, cheques and electronic payments), signalled a slowdown in the pace of growth in March amid severe weather disruption at the start of the month. That said, spending continued to rise on an annual basis, extending the current sequence of expansion to 13 months.  
  
Overall spending was up +1.4% year-on-year in March, the slowest increase since last October. The rate of growth was much weaker than the +4.3% rise seen in February as Storm Emma led to a nationwide red weather alert. Looking across the first quarter of 2018 as a whole, consumer spending continued to rise at a solid pace. At +3.7% year-on-year, the expansion was unchanged from that seen at the end of 2017.
  
The index shows that overall spending was up +1.4% year-on-year in March, the slowest increase since last October. The rate of growth was much weaker than the +4.3% rise seen in February as Storm Emma led to a nationwide red weather alert. Looking across the first quarter of 2018 as a whole, consumer spending continued to rise at a solid pace. At +3.7% year-on-year, the expansion was unchanged from that seen at the end of 2017.  
  
The strongest performing sector was Food & Drink (with an increase of +8.5%), which was boosted by a relatively early Easter and a spike in sales the week after Storm Emma, representing the fastest rise since February 2016. 

Kantar Worldpanel Ireland data showed that sales of Easter eggs and seasonal chocolate confectionery spiked by 75.2% in March, with consumers also spending €20.33 more than usual the week after the snow as households restocked supplies. A sharp expansion was also recorded in the Hotels, Restaurants & Bars category (+7.3%) during the month.

The Household Goods (+2.5%), Recreation & Culture (+1.7%) and Clothing & Footwear (+1.0%) categories all saw spending increase on an annual basis at the end of the first quarter. That said, in each case the rate of expansion eased from February.

Three monitored sectors saw falling expenditure, led by Health & Education where spending was down -7.8% year-on-year. Both Transport & Communication (-0.6%) and Miscellaneous Goods & Services (-0.2%) posted marginal reductions in expenditure.
  
Commenting on the figures, Country Manager at Visa Ireland, Philip Konopik said, "March’s figures highlight the impact of Storm Emma, with the bad weather preventing some Face-to-Face spending on the high street and influencing the general slowdown of expenditure growth for the month. However, while the poor weather had a negative impact on some sectors, the Irish grocery market experienced strong sales growth during the month, no doubt aided by this year’s early Easter."

Source: www.businessworld.ie

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