Feelgood factor sees consumer spending on the up
Consumers have been splashing out on holidays and restaurants since Christmas as the feelgood factor of an improving economy filters through to their bank balances.
Figures from Visa Europe show that Irish people using the group's cards spent 7.5pc more last month on their plastic compared to January 2015. That reflects spending on both Visa credit cards and debit cards.
That was a bigger increase than was recorded during December as the Christmas buying frenzy hit its peak, and when expenditure on cards for the month rose 6.5pc year-on-year.
Growth in consumer spending was recorded across each of the sectors covered in January, with the fastest increase again reported in recreation and cultural activities, Visa said.
Spending on activities in that sector jumped 14.7pc last month - a new record - boosted by holiday bookings. The Irish Travel Agents' Association (ITAA) reported that its members had seen an unprecedented level of booking enquires during January, with some recording sales increases of up to 40pc.
Philip Konopik, the country manager for Ireland for Visa Europe, said that the increased spending recorded in January reflected an improvement in overall consumer confidence, particularly for 'big-ticket' items such as cars and holidays.
The transport and communication sector was boosted by 7.8pc growth, with car sales proving to be a key factor.
In fact, the Society of the Irish Motor Industry reported that more than 39,800 new cars were sold in January. This represents an increase of more than 33pc on the number of new cars sold during the same month in 2015.
"The real highlight is that all sectors in the economy benefited from the rise in consumer spending," he said.
"The high street was a key beneficiary, with the second highest level of growth in face-to-face spending recorded since we launched the Consumer Spending Index." The index was launched in 2014.