Spending up 4.3pc as consumers splash out
Consumer spending is up 4.3pc in the last year with online sales growing three times faster than in-store purchases.
A new Irish consumer spending index from Visa Europe tracks in detail how Irish consumers are spending their money.
It showed that sales of food, drink and cigarettes saw particularly strong growth in April and are 9.2pc higher than a year earlier.
Spending on household goods rose by 8.6pc, clothes and footwear purchases were up 6.4pc, and consumers spent 6.1pc more in hotels, restaurants and bars than they did a year ago.
Spending on health, education, transport and communication also rose, but miscellaneous goods and services saw a slight dip.
Online spending was up 7.8pc since last year while face-to-face purchases rose by a more modest 2.8pc.
The report is based on Visa Europe's giant database of consumer purchases using Visa debit or credit cards, but adjusted to also take account of cash purchases.
It covers all the main areas of consumer spending including food, utilities, travel, clothing and household goods but does not cover rents, mortgages or savings.
Visa Europe's Ireland country manager Conor Langford (pictured) said this monthly snapshot gave a real-time picture of how Irish consumers are spending their money.
"With €1 in €3 of consumer spending on a Visa card in Ireland, we are in a position to identify trends early on and it is a positive sign to see growing consumer confidence in the market," he said.
Unlike other research, such as the retail sales index, it was based on actual spending data rather than a survey of retailers or consumers.
Paul Smith of Markit consultants said the increase in spending showed the Irish economy was "firmly on course to be the strongest growing economy in the eurozone for 2015".
Irish consumers spent €5.6bn online using Visa cards last year, or around 20pc of their total card purchases, and this grew by 30pc on the previous year.
Two out of every three online purchases were with an Irish company, including Ryanair and Aer Lingus, showing the opportunities for other Irish firms, Mr Langford said.