Produced by IHS Markit, the Index measures expenditure across all payment types (cash, cheques and electronic payments). It noted that 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 and although modest, the increase was the sharpest since last April.
Solid rises were also recorded in the Transport & Communication (up 3.4%) and Recreation & Culture (up 3.3%) sectors. The only sectors to post decreases in consumer spend in December were Food & Drink (down 1.5%) and Health & Education (down 0.2%).
The fall in Food & Drink expenditure was the first in three months.
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.
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.
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.
“Irish consumer spending was subdued in 2019 in comparison to previous years,” said Philip Konopik, Visa’s Ireland Country Manager, “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. 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.”
Associate Director at IHS Markit Andrew Harker added, “A successful December ensured that Irish consumer spending ended 2019 on a positive note. A strong rebound in eCommerce expenditure drove the increase in overall spend.”