Almost one-quarter of people here say they can't afford a holiday this year, while those who are taking a break are not spending significantly more than they did a year ago.
In the latest KBC Bank consumer sentiment survey, 22% of consumers said they couldn't afford to go on holidays this year, while 69% said they planned to take a significant holiday and a further 9% were not taking a holiday for reasons other than affordability.
According to Austin Hughes, Chief Economist, KBC Bank Ireland, the findings show that some consumers are still wary of spending big, including on holidays, and that it indicates a steady rather than spectacular year for the domestic tourism market.
Some 28% of working class respondents said they cannot afford to take a holiday compared to 16% of ABC1 or middle class respondents.
While 30% of those who left education at lower second level say they can’t afford a holiday, just 14% of those with degree level or higher said the same.
The survey also recorded notable gender and age-related differences - 26% of women said they can’t afford a holiday this year compared to 19% of men, likely linked to a significant gender income gap.
Those in middle-aged age groups are much more likely to say they can’t afford a holiday, peaking at 28% of those aged between 55 and 64.
One-fifth of respondents aged 65 and older said they can’t afford holidays, which KBC said was likely to reflect a range of pressures from education costs to pension provision falling on middle-aged groups that materially lessen discretionary spending power for many households in this category.
As for those taking a holiday, 45% of consumers with definitive spending plans said they would be spending the same amount on a holiday as last year, while another 31% said they are spending more and 24% said they would be spending less.
Averaged across all consumers, holiday spending is set to be just 0.6% higher than in 2018 and any significant increases in holiday spend are more prevalent among ABC1’s, those with 3rd level education, younger consumers and among men.
According to the analysis by Austin Hughes: "Spending on holidays only accounted for about 6% of household spending in 2018 but last year it grew by 10.8%, twice as fast as the overall increase in consumer spending. The discretionary nature of holiday spending means it may provide some useful pointers as to the strength and spread of consumer spending power in the Irish economy in mid-2019."
"With more than one in five consumers saying they are unable to afford a holiday, these results suggest a substantial number of households are still struggling financially in spite of the strong economic upswing of the past five or six years. The responses may also shed a little more light on current income distribution trends in Ireland.
"As official data indicate that on average Irish people take two holidays per year, the survey suggests that those who take holidays take three holidays each on average while more than one in five Irish people don’t take any holiday because of financial constraints."