The index pointed to a return to growth of household spending in Ireland during February where consumer expenditure was up 3.2% year-on-year, following a 0.9% fall in January
The expansion was the second in the past three months and the most marked since October 2018. That said, the year-on-year comparisons will be enhanced by 2020 being a leap year resulting in an extra trading day on February 29th compared to February last year.
All eight monitored sectors recorded annual increases in spending during February although again it is worth noting that the Leap Day in 2020 will have at least partly contributed to this. The February Index also represents the last month of data prior to the expected impact on spending due to Coronavirus.
Food & Drink posted the sharpest rise in expenditure, with the fastest expansion since March 2018 (up 8.6% year-on-year). Strong growth was also recorded in the Hotels, Restaurants & Bars (up 8.2%) category.
“While Food & Drink will continue to rise next month, we expect to see sharp falls in other categories due to the Covid-19 restrictions that are currently being put in place such as pubs closing ahead of St Patrick’s Day, typically one of their busiest trading periods during the year,” said Philip Konopik, Visa’s Ireland Country Manager.
Andrew Harker, Economics Director at IHS Markit, added, “Events in February have now been overtaken by the wider spread of Covid-19 in Europe. The impacts of the measures put in place to try and prevent further spread of the disease will therefore likely see Irish consumer spending falling during March.”