The latest Visa Europe Irish Consumer Spending Index reveals the largest growth in face-to-face spending, it has ever recorded, as Black Friday helped drive a 6.6% rise in spending last month.
Discretionary spending among Irish households has risen throughout the 15 months of data availability so far, with strong growth particularly visible during the second half of 2015.
Online spending rose by more than 11% as internet shoppers flocked for bargains on Cyber Monday.
Double-digit growth in eCommerce has now been recorded in each of the past six months, with many retailers reporting strong growth over the course of the Black Friday weekend into Cyber Monday, particularly with the damp weather dissuading some consumers from taking advantage of the in-store offers.
Sales of household goods led the way in November, with spending up 16.8% — the highest in the series so far. This was also the case with clothing and footwear with a 16% rise in spending, as both categories benefited from the Black Friday weekend.
High-profile concerts and Ireland’s international sporting success, particularly in the European Championships play-offs during the month, boosted spending at hotels, restaurants, and bars by 13.2% — another record increase since the index began.
Cinema sales also bolstered spending in the recreation and culture sector, as releases like Brooklyn and the latest instalment of The Hunger Games led to a 10.4% increase in the category.
Ireland country manager with Visa Europe, Conor Langford said the Black Friday weekend had really kicked off the Christmas shopping season.
“While we did not witness raucous scenes in-store over the Black Friday weekend, consumer spending was still considerably up. Similarly Irish consumers took advantage of Cyber Monday, placing orders on the last day of the month in a bid for gifts to arrive before Christmas day.
“It was not all about Christmas shopping though, as consumers enjoyed themselves on nights out, with Ireland’s success in the Euro 2016 playoffs and the series of U2 concerts among the highlights,” he said.
Senior economist at Markit, Andrew Harker, said the increase in consumer spending pointed to an improving economy.
“The data signals the strong positive impacts of rising consumer confidence, a drop in unemployment from one year ago, plus increased wages, and adds to the picture of impressive performance of the Irish economy. We would therefore expect official GDP and consumer spending data to continue to show sharp rises, once they become available,” he said.
The data comes as Retail Ireland has predicted the strongest Christmas shopping season in seven years, with households expected to spend an average of €2,450 this December — approximately €600 more than any other month of the year.
The expected improved Christmas spend is aided by shoppers having more disposable income, albeit still 10% behind 2008 levels; and a strong recovery in consumer sentiment which soared by over 10% in the first 10 months of 2015.