Sunday 25 September 2016

Irish online spend tipped to grow faster than economy and hit €14bn by 2021

Published 22/09/2016 | 02:30

Tony Hanway, ceo of Virgin Media; Sinead Desmod from TV3; and Gerard O’Neill, chairman of Amárach Research, at the launch of the Digital Insights Report which has forecast a near doubling in online consumer spending in Ireland. Photo: Marc O’Sullivan
Tony Hanway, ceo of Virgin Media; Sinead Desmod from TV3; and Gerard O’Neill, chairman of Amárach Research, at the launch of the Digital Insights Report which has forecast a near doubling in online consumer spending in Ireland. Photo: Marc O’Sullivan

Irish online spending will grow at a faster pace than the Irish economy over the next five years, new research has shown.

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The value of Irish online spending is set to almost double to €14.1bn by 2021, according to the Virgin Media Digital Insights report.

Over the last two years the average online monthly spend per person has risen by 13pc. On average online shoppers are spending around €80 a month on products and services.

"That rate of growth cumulatively actually adds up to a faster rate of growth than the overall economy, but also in the trend in consumer spending," Amárach chairman Gerard O'Neill said at the report's launch at the Science Gallery in Dublin yesterday.

Mr O'Neill highlighted the importance of e-commerce to the overall economy and said the research firm was confident of its prediction for 2021.

"Those businesses that are growth hungry will need to align themselves with the digital dynamic in terms of consumer spending if you're going to tap into those huge opportunities for the future," he said.

The Irish digital economy, which is defined as the products and services sold online and the businesses and employees that deliver them, is now worth around 6pc of total gross domestic product.

Virgin Media chief executive Tony Hanway said companies can make themselves "invisible" in today's economy if they don't utilise their online presence.

"Ireland Inc must raise its game in online commerce or it will lose a multi-billion euro opportunity. As a small market, easy access to larger e-commerce enabled economies Ireland has much more to lose than many of our larger trading partners," he said.

The study found 60pc of Ireland's online spend, or €4.5bn, goes to overseas companies selling their products to Irish consumers.

Mr Hanway also said the main reason, outside of price, for consumers shopping online is due to the lack of availability of a product in a local store.

"This means that if they continue to give the customer what they want they can compete with the ever-increasing digital offering."

The report, which surveyed 1,000 adults across Ireland, also covered trends in device usage, tax payments, and the rise of the connected home.

Just under 90pc of those quizzed used the Government's Revenue Online System (ROS) to pay their taxes, with 83pc paying their car tax online.

Property tax payments also ranked highly, with 83pc saying they paid theirs online over the last 12 months.

In device usage texting and talking remained the top-used services by adults, followed by Facebook and WhatsApp.

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