Dublin, 14 May 2018: Visa’s Irish Consumer Spending Index, which measures expenditure across all payment types (cash, cheques and electronic payments), marked a fourteenth successive month of increases in Irish consumer spending. Spending was up +3.8% year-on-year in April, an improvement on March’s Storm Emma related slowdown of +1.5%. Despite the improvement in April, however, underlying growth remains relatively subdued, with the annual rate of expansion over the past three months averaging +3.2% and indicative of a slower pace in growth since the start of the year.
There was a notable divergence between eCommerce and Face-to-Face spending during the month. eCommerce registered a strong upturn in spend, rising by +10.7% since April 2017 and the strongest growth seen in this category for eight months. Face-to-Face expenditure rose at a much slower rate, by just 0.3% year-on-year. That was the slowest growth on this measure since a -2.2% reduction was seen in August 2017.
By category, the strongest performing sector was Hotels, Restaurants & Bars, where growth accelerated to a four-month high of +9.7%. Recreation & Culture enjoyed a strong rebound in growth following the storm-related downturn of March. April’s figure of +9.4% for this category was the best since November 2017.
Health & Education (+3.9%), Household Goods (+8.5%), Transport & Communications (+5.9%) and Clothing & Footwear (+4.4%) also saw annual growth in April, and relative improvements compared to March.
In contrast, having benefited from an Easter-related boost during March, Food & Beverages saw no change in spending on the year. Meanwhile, Misc. Goods & Services saw only a marginal increase of +0.6%
The continued trend of disparity can be seen again this month between Irish and UK spending however. April’s UK Consumer Spending Index noted an overall decrease in expenditure of -2.0% against Ireland’s +3.8%, with potential factors pointing to relatively subdued UK economic growth and lingering uncertainties towards the outcome of the ongoing Brexit negotiations. Other juxtapositions across the two Indexes can be seen in the Recreation & Culture category, where UK consumers saw a fall of -5.6% in spending whereas in Ireland this category was noted as the second strongest with growth of +9.4%. Face-to-Face spending for UK consumers also saw a fall of -5.4% in April compared with Ireland’s Face-to-Face spending at +0.3%.
Philip Konopik, Country Manager, Ireland, Visa said:
“April’s return to growth in spending is much welcomed after the slowdown brought on by Storm Emma in March. That said, the rise in consumer spending was modest, with sectors like Food & Beverages impacted by Easter falling earlier in the month this year compared to the same period in 2017. There were positive highlights though with significant growth in both the Recreation & Culture and Hotels, Restaurants & Bars categories.”
Paul Smith, Economics Director at IHS Markit said:
“Following a challenging March, when growth was limited by the impact of Storm Emma, the Visa CSI recorded an expected bounce in spending during April. That said, the pace of expansion underwhelmed somewhat, with the underlying trend suggesting that overall spending is rising at its lowest pace since around the turn of the year. Nonetheless, the environment for further growth remains positive, with joblessness falling, confidence strengthening and business activity continuing to rise.”