Early Easter eases Storm Emma pain
Storm Emma slowed down household spending last month, but an early Easter gave food and drink retailers a healthy boost, according to Visa's Irish Consumer Spending Index.
The index, compiled by IHS Markit on behalf of Visa, revealed overall spending was up 1.4pc year-on-year in March, the slowest increase since last October.
Visa says the rate of growth was much weaker than the 4.3pc rise seen in February as Storm Emma led to a nationwide red weather alert.
Across the first three months, consumer spending rose at some 3.7pc year-on-year, unchanged from that seen at the end of 2017. The strongest-performing sector was Food and Drink, boosted by a relatively early Easter.
March saw an 8.5pc year-on-year increase, the fastest rise since February 2016 and a two-year high for the sector. A sharp expansion was also recorded in the Hotels, Restaurants and Bars category.
"March's figures highlight the impact of Storm Emma, with the bad weather preventing some face-to-face spending on the high street and influencing the general slowdown of expenditure growth for the month," said Philip Konopik, Visa Europe Ireland country manager.
"However, while the poor weather had a negative impact on some sectors, the Irish grocery market experienced strong sales growth during the month, no doubt aided by this year's early Easter."
Andrew Harker, associate director at IHS Markit, said the weakness seen last month was likely to prove transitory, with growth "hopefully picking up in April amid better weather conditions, improving consumer confidence and relative job stability".