Irish people spend more per head on Christmas than others in West
Irish people spend more money over the Christmas period than people in any of the major Western economies, a new study has shown.
The report from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) found that last Christmas we spent almost €965 ($1,200) per person, almost twice as much as Americans.
Shoppers in Britain were the second-highest spenders last year, at €854 ($1,065) apiece.
PwC senior economist Richard Boxshall told the Irish Independent that PwC "can only really speculate" on whether the high spend comes from generosity, the high cost of living, or the number of young people in our population.
"One of the things that we did get from the results is that Ireland has consistently been one of the top first or second spenders in the per person league table over the last 10 years that we've looked at," Mr Boxshall said.
"It's also notable that the UK is up there. It seems to be something cultural or deep down in the UK and Ireland, and probably one of the factors is that Christmas is a real focal point for families and Ireland and the UK. You've also got the US that spend quite a lot over Christmas, but they also have things like Thanksgiving."
The report is compiled every four years, and Ireland has been tops in 2003, 2007 and 2013.
Consumers here appear to have regained their festive cheer faster than other countries that were hit hard by the financial crisis.
Last year, Christmas spending per person was higher here than it was in 2003. In other bailout countries, such as Greece and Portugal, Christmas spending still lagged behind the levels seen in that year.
"Some of the scars of the financial crisis are still visible," Mr Boxshall said.
"US Christmas spending remains 10pc behind that of 2007 in real terms. In Greece, real per person Christmas spending dropped by around 60pc overall in the six years to 2013."
Spanish spending per person also remains significantly below 2007 levels in real terms.
"Latest indicators point to an improvement in the Irish consumer environment, with modest recovery in the retail sector, albeit from a weak base," PwC Ireland Retail Partner David McGee said. "There are also signs that online internet shopping is on the increase and the real challenge for Irish retailers is to ensure that they capture the full commercial benefits of digital."
Within the Eurozone French people spent the second most per head after Ireland.
In aggregate terms, the report unsurprisingly found that the highest level of spending on Christmas last year was in the US, at €197bn ($245bn).
Ireland was tenth in spending €4bn ($5bn), while Britain was second and Germany was third.
The report also looked at the emerging markets of Brazil and Russia and found that Christmas spending per head in those countries was relatively low. China, Japan and India were excluded, as Christmas is not a traditional holiday in those countries.
The report defined Christmas spending as the excess expenditure arising in November and December compared to the other months of the year.