Growth in the Hotels, Restaurants & Bars sector accelerated to a four-month high of 9.7% and spending generally was up 3.8% year-on-year in April, an improvement on March’s Storm Emma-related growth slowdown of 1.5%. April marked a 14th successive month of increases in Irish consumer spending.
Despite April’s improvement, 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.
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.
There was also a notable divergence between e-commerce and face-to-face spending during the month. E-commerce 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 – just 0.3% year-on-year. That was the slowest growth on this measure since a 2.2% reduction was seen in August 2017.
Ireland/UK spend comparison
The continued trend of disparity between Irish and UK spending levels can be seen again this month however. April’s UK Consumer Spending Index noted an overall decrease in expenditure of 2.0% against Ireland’s 3.8% growth with potential factors indicating relatively subdued UK economic growth and lingering uncertainties towards the outcome of the ongoing Brexit negotiations, reports Visa.
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 growth at 0.3%, according to Visa.
“April’s return to growth in spending is much welcomed after the slowdown brought on by Storm Emma in March,” said Philip Konopik, Ireland’s Country Manager for Visa, “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.”