Household spending sees biggest rise in five months
Spending by households returned to growth in March, having fallen in February. The Visa Consumer Spending Index, which measures expenditure across cash, cheques and electronic payments, was up 2.7pc.
It was the largest increase in spending in five months, led by a rise in expenditure in shops.
Spending on St Patrick's Day helped provide a boost to retailers. Consumers had been splashing out online and spending less in street shops.
The latest index figures show face-to-face spending was up for the first time since last October, with a rise of 2pc. Expenditure online was also up, but the rise of 4pc was the slowest in six months.
The index compilers said the overall of 2.7pc rise was the strongest in months, but the rate of growth was still weaker than the average seen since the series began in 2014.
Household goods posted the strongest expansion in March, seeing spending rise of almost 16pc in the year. Marked increases were also recorded in health and education, with a rise of 10pc. Expenditure in hotels restaurants and bars was up 7pc.
Recreation and culture spending was up, as was expenditure on clothing and footwear. The only two sectors to register declines were food and beverages and miscellaneous goods and services.
Ireland country manager at Visa Philip Konopik said St Patrick's Day provided a boost as the hotels, bars and restaurants and recreation and culture sectors both experienced a rise in expenditure.
"There was also a spike in expenditure on household goods, which rose at its fastest rate since November 2015."