Visa: Consumer spending back in growth for March
The latest edition of Visa's Consumer Spending Index, which tracks expenditure in Ireland across all payment types, has been published, showing positive growth in many sectors after a slow start to 2019.
23 April 2019
Q1 2019 ended on a positive note in consumer spending terms, according to Visa’s latest Consumer Spending Index. Following a downtick in February of -0.6%, household expenditure was up by 2.7% for the month of March.
This represents the strongest spending increase for five months, though also a below-average rate of growth. Overall, the increase for the quarter was a modest 0.8%, due to January and February’s slow movement. With regard to specific areas, the return to growth comes alongside signs of revival on the high street. Face-to-face expenditure is up for the first time since October (+2% year-on-year), while eCommerce spending also increased slightly in March (+4%). This was also a below average rate of growth for online.
Meanwhile, recreation & culture spending grew (+4%), as did clothing & foootwear (+1.3%), health & education (+9.9%) and hotels, restaurants & bars (+7.1%). Food & beverages saw a decrease in expenditure (-1.7%), along with miscellaneous goods and services (-4.2%).
Philip Konopik, Ireland country manager, Visa, noted that St. Patrick’s Day in March played a role in the Index’s return to growth. “As the first quarter came to a close,” he said, “St. Patrick’s Day provided a welcome boost to the hospitality and recreation sectors, which both experienced a rise in household expenditure.”
Andrew Harker, associate director at IHS Markit, which produces the report for Visa, said that although consumer confidence remained weak in March, Visa’s latest CSI signalled a greater willingness to spend at the end of the first quarter. “Spending was up on the back of signs of revival on the high street,” he said, and returns to growth in sectors such as Clothing & Footwear and Transport & Communication.
“Retailers will hope to see this improving trend continue over the important Easter period,” Harker said, “but with political uncertainty remaining to the fore, further hesitancy among consumers can’t be ruled out.”