Saturday 23 September 2017

Spending in shops down for sixth month in a row as online surges

Grafton Street, Dublin. Stock Image
Grafton Street, Dublin. Stock Image

Personal Finance Editor

SALES in shops declined for a sixth month in a row in March as consumers continue to pour money into buying online.

The Visa consumer spending index shows an 18pc surge in online spending in the first four months of the year, but buying in shops was down by 2.4pc.

The fall in the value of sales in shops is despite a drop in the price of groceries due to the Brexit bonus.

Shoppers spent less on clothing and footwear in the year to March, with hotels, bars and restaurants also taking a hit.

Overall spending, measured in the use of cash, cheques and electronic payments, was down 4.2pc in March when compared with the same month last year.

However, there was a rise in spending on transport and communications, with spending hitting a four-month high.

Also up was consumer spending on recreation and culture.

But consumers crimped their spending on clothing and footwear, hotels, restaurants and bars.

Country manager in Ireland of Visa Philip Konopik said: “Irish consumer spending continues to rise, albeit at a reduced pace, with March recording the sixth month in a row where the rate of growth was less than five percent.”

He said that while this is positive, there is cause for concern in two areas.

“Face-to-face spending has been in decline for the past six months and the Clothing and Footwear sector is particularly challenged. The ongoing bus strike has impacted regional businesses and it could hold face-to-face spending back,” he said.

Economist Andrew Harker, at IHS Markit, who helped compile the Visa spending index, said shops were seen a protracted fall in sales.

“There is still little sign of a recovery on the high street, with face-to-face spending now in a protracted downturn, and so ecommerce is having to drive growth at present.”

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