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School Holidays and Centenary Celebrations Contribute to Irish Consumer Spending Increase in March

Press release   •   Apr 11, 2016 13:20 GMT

DUBLIN, 11 April 2016: The latest data for Visa Europe's Consumer Spending Index for Ireland showed a continued solid growth in spending to close out the first quarter of 2016. Spending was up +5.6% year-on-year across all payment types. This represented a slowdown from the +11.3% increase seen in February, when the extent of the rise had been flattered by the extra trading day as a result of 2016 being a Leap Year coupled with additional Valentine’s Day spending.

Despite slowing, the rate of growth in consumer spending is broadly in line with the average recorded since the series began in September 2014. Expenditure has increased in each month of the series so far.

Poor weather in March including Storm Jake and Storm Katie saw Irish people shopping from the convenience of their homes and smartphones. The rate of growth in eCommerce expenditure continued to outpace that of high-street transactions with +9.5% year-on-year increases for eCommerce versus +3.8% for high-street transactions.

Each of the broad spending categories registered growth of spending on an annual basis in March, the sixth successive month in which this has been the case.

The strongest expansion was again recorded in the Recreation & Culture sector (+14.4%), helped by the Easter weekend being in March this year after being in April of 2015. 2016 also saw an extended school break for students across the country with most schools being closed for the Easter holidays for three weeks. Tourist attractions and exhibitions, cinema ticket sales and hobbies and game stores all saw a surge in sales as parents and children made the most of the time off. Adding to the strong performance was the various events taking place across the country in celebration of the 1916 Centenary which saw huge numbers of families in attendance.

Household expenditure also saw an increase of +5.6% year-on-year in March with many people taking advantage of the four day weekend to being their home improvement and DIY projects.

Although Easter contributed to an expenditure increase in March, the Hotels, Restaurants & Bars sector saw its weakest rise of 2016.

Philip Konopik, Country Manager, Ireland, Visa Europe said:

“Our latest data shows that whilst we experienced a slowdown in spending growth we enter the second quarter of 2016 on a strong upward growth pattern. The Leap Year added an extra day of spending to February which transcended across our figures however March figures are relative to what we see around us. The multitude of well attended events taking place throughout the country in respect to the 1916 celebrations led to strong spending growth in the Recreation & Culture sector whilst adverse weather and storms led to an increase in online shopping.”

Andrew Harker, Senior Economist at Markit said:

“While at first glance it may appear that growth of consumer spending slowed dramatically in March, it is important to remember that the February figures were flattered by the impact of the extra trading day due to the Leap Year in 2016. The rate of expansion in March is actually in line with the trend across the 19-month series so far and so can be judged a further solid outcome.

“Looking at the first quarter as a whole, Visa Europe’s Irish Consumer Spending Index suggests that we can expect to see further growth of GDP and official consumer spending when these data are released later in the year.”

About Visa Europe’s Irish Consumer Spending Index

The Index is based on spending on all Visa debit, credit and prepaid cards which are used to make an average of 110 million transactions every quarter and account for €1 in €3 of all Irish consumer spending. The Index adjusts these data spending figures for a variety of factors - such as card issuance, preferences and inflation. These adjustments mean that these data are distinct from Visa Europe's corporate performance and that the Index provides a robust indicator of consumer expenditure. It is produced in conjunction with Markit, a specialist provider of economic indices, who analyse and adjust the raw data to ensure it provides an accurate indication of consumer spending trends.

About Visa Europe

Visa Europe is a payments technology business owned and operated by member banks and other payment service providers from 37 countries. It is the leading payments system in Europe, and sits at the heart of the payments ecosystem providing the services and infrastructure to enable millions of European consumers, businesses and governments to make electronic payments.

Its members are responsible for issuing cards, signing up retailers and deciding cardholder and retailer fees. Visa Europe is also the largest transaction processor in Europe, responsible for processing more than 16 billion transactions annually – at a rate of 1,622 transactions per second at peak times.

There are more than 500m Visa cards in Europe, while €1 in every €6 spent in Europe is on a Visa card. Total expenditure on Visa cards exceeds €2 trillion annually, with €1.5 trillion spent at point-of-sale.

Since 2004, Visa Europe has been independent of Visa Inc. and incorporated in the UK, with an exclusive, irrevocable and perpetual licence in Europe. Both companies work in partnership to enable global Visa payments in more than 200 countries and territories.

For more information, visit www.visa.ie and @VisaEuropeNews

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