Visa has today released its latest Consumer Spending Index, produced by IHS Markit, which measures expenditure across all payment types (cash, cheques and electronic payments).
The index pointed to a positive end to the year for Irish household spending. Expenditure was up +0.9% year-on-year in December, following a fall of -1.9% in November. Moreover, the expansion was the first in four months. Although modest, the increase was the sharpest since last April.
Despite the rise in spending in December, trends in expenditure remained subdued during the final quarter of 2019 as a whole. Consumer spending was down -0.7% year-on-year, broadly in line with the falls seen in both the second and third quarters of the year.
Visa say eCommerce spending was the leading factor behind the increase in consumer spending, due to Cyber Monday occurring in December 2019. Online expenditure was up +6.8% during December, compared to the same period the previous year, the strongest rise since January 2019.
Face-to-Face spending, meanwhile, continued to decline, extending the current sequence of decline to four months. At -1.4% year-on-year, the decrease was modest but sharper than seen in November.
Spending increases were seen in the majority of sectors covered during December, led by Hotels, Restaurants & Bars (+4.5%). Solid rises were also recorded in the Transport & Communication (+3.4%), Recreation & Culture (+3.3%) and Clothing & Footwear categories (+2.9%). In the case of the latter, the expansion ended an eight-month sequence of decline.
The only sectors to post decreases in consumer spending in December were Food & Drink (-1.5%) and Health & Education (-0.2%). The fall in Food & Drink (-1.5%) expenditure was the first in three months.
Commenting on the index, Ireland Country Manager at Visa, Philip Konopik said, "Irish consumer spending was subdued in 2019 in comparison to previous years. This reflects that the majority of gains from the economic recovery have arrived and the same levels of increases in household spending that we have seen in recent years cannot be expected."
He added, "While spending may have plateaued somewhat in December, it comes as no surprise that sectors like Hotels, Restaurants & Bars and Recreation & Culture saw boosts as the public celebrated Christmas with meals and nights out over the holiday period."