Online sales fuel boost in spending
A record increase in Irish online shopping fuelled a 6.6pc year-on-year jump in consumer spending last month, according to a new report.
Visa Europe's latest consumer spending index indicates that ecommerce spend was up 16pc on December 2014, the biggest ever increase in the survey's history.
Face-to-face expenditure also posted a year-on-year increase in December, Visa Europe said, but at a lower rate than last year. The results are likely to lead to more calls for Irish businesses to improve and increase their online presence.
"The latest growth in December was an extremely positive milestone for the economy as there was a year-on-year rise in consumer spending every month during 2015," Visa Europe's manager for Ireland Conor Langford said.
"A number of categories were boosted due to festive spending, like the recreation and culture sector with consumers buying gifts and enjoying themselves over the break.
"Cinemas in particular benefited from the release of the latest 'Star Wars' blockbuster, which recorded over €3m in sales in five days alone.
"Overall it capped off a very positive 12 months as rising levels of consumer spending continued to contribute to economic growth."
Spending in the fourth quarter was up 7.1pc on the same quarter of 2014, the report found.
The survey, carried out in conjunction with financial information services provider Markit, is based on spending on all Visa debit, credit and prepaid cards, which are used to make an average of 110 million transactions every quarter, and which Visa Europe say account for €1 in €3 of all Irish consumer spending.
Markit senior economist Andrew Harker said the index "suggests that the Christmas period was a successful one in terms of household expenditure".
"The recreation and hospitality areas fared particularly well as rising consumer confidence and improving wages led people to enjoy the Christmas festivities. Securing sales was more of a struggle in the clothing and footwear sector due to reduced demand for winter clothing."
Spending on household goods rose 10.8pc year-on-year in December, while spending on health and education rose 10.7pc.