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Record Increase In Irish Online Shopping In December Supports +6.6% Rise In Consumer Spending

11/01/2016

DUBLIN, 11 January 2015:The latest Visa Europe Irish Consumer Spending Index signalled a strong end to 2015 for the Irish economy as total household expenditure rose +6.6% across all payment methods from one year earlier. The December performance completes a particularly strong final quarter of 2015 for consumer spending with +7.1% growth over the same quarter in 2014.

The increase in eCommerce spending in December was +16.0% year-on-year, the strongest in the series history having surpassed the previous record from June 2015. The rise came after Cyber Monday in November, the busiest day in the year for online shopping, highlighting the rise in popularity of eCommerce in Ireland, with a number of retailers pursuing an omnichannel approach as they launched online sales while stores were closed at Christmas. While face-to-face expenditure continued to rise in December, the rate of expansion slowed to +3.8% year-on-year.

Three of the monitored sectors posted double-digit growth in spending over the year to December, namely Household Goods (+10.8%), Health & Education (+10.7%) and Recreation & Culture (+10.7%). The Recreation & Culture sector was boosted by the release of the new Star Wars film which led to a sharp rise in expenditure at cinemas. The Force Awakens generated €836,845* in ticket sales by Irish cinemagoers on its opening day alone, which represents a new Irish record.

Adding to the strong performance of the sector was the fact that consumers flocked to toy and department stores to purchase gifts for Christmas in greater numbers than had been seen in 2014.

Similarly the Hotels, Restaurants & Bars category recorded strong growth as the Christmas festivities saw consumers spend on nights out, albeit at a slower pace than previous months at +7.6%.

One area that saw a marked slowdown in the rate of expansion was Clothing & Footwear as weather conditions hampered retailers' efforts to secure sales of winter clothing. Spending was up just +3.9% over the year to December, well down on the +15.7% rise from November and the worst performance for the sector since October 2014.

Conor Langford, Country Manager, Ireland, Visa Europe said:

The latest growth in December was an extremely positive milestone for the economy as there was a year-on-year rise in consumer spending every month during 2015. A number of categories were boosted this month due to festive spending like the Recreation & Culture sector with consumers buying gifts and enjoying themselves over the break. Cinemas in particularly benefited from the release of the latest Star Wars blockbuster, which recorded over €3 million in sales in five days alone.* Overall it capped off a very positive twelve months as rising levels of consumer spending continued to contribute to economic growth.”

Andrew Harker, Senior Economist at Markit said:

Visa Europe’s Irish Consumer Spending Index suggests that the Christmas period was a successful one in terms of household expenditure. The recreation and hospitality areas fared particularly well as rising consumer confidence and improving wages led people to enjoy the Christmas festivities. Securing sales was more of a struggle in the Clothing & Footwear sector due to reduced demand for winter clothing. With GDP data backing up the findings of Visa Europe’s Irish Consumer Spending Index data for the third quarter of the year, the strong performance of the Visa data during Q4 bodes well for the official figures when they are released.”

*Source - Wide Eye Media/Rentrak - http://www.wideeyemedia.com/