Spend in bars and on testing rose in December – Revolut
Spending in bars rose 8% in December, despite the curbs put on socialising by Government Covid-19 restrictions.
But the increase in hospitality spend also coincided with a massive jump in the amount spent on testing laboratories during the month, the figures from Revolut show.
Spending on Covid testing by users of the online banking platform leapt 159% in the weeks up to and over Christmas, with the average user spending €62.91 on tests.
The pandemic related restrictions also hit travel, with spend on airlines, travel agents and cruises down by between a quarter and a third compared to November.
Fast food outlets saw a modest uptick in business, up 3% on November, but instead of enjoying their traditional pre-Christmas boom, spending in restaurants remained flat.
The Revolut data, based on the spending habits of its 1.5m Irish users, does show that other retail outlets did well from the festive splurge however.
Spending at jewellers rose 65% compared to November, book stores saw a 35% increase in business and department stores and toy shops benefited from spending that was up more than 25%.
Clothing stores also did well, with spending there up 14% month on month, although men’s clothing spend rose 32%.
There was also a 28% increase in spending at hairdressers and barbers and a 3% rise in spending on taxis, while cinemas saw an uptick in spending of around 22% compared to November.
Unsurprisingly, food shops also did well, with the spend in butchers rising 24%, in supermarkets increasing 9% and in off-licences surging 47%.
Two thirds of the shopping was done physically, despite the concerns around Covid transmission, with the other 35% carried out online.
Overall, Revolut estimates that spending in December was up 5% on the previous month.
A separate analysis of debit and credit card trends for December by Bank of Ireland showed spending in the sector dipping slightly when compared to the previous month.
There was a reduction of 5% in total social spending in December, the report concludes, with spending in pubs and restaurants down 5% and 3% respectively.
However, when compared to December of last year, spending on social activities was up 27% as venues could still trade until 8pm after restrictions were imposed late in the month.
At the end of 2020, in contrast, many such venues were closed or were subject to restricted trading patterns.
On the retail side, Bank of Ireland’s report recorded a spike in the purchase of sporting goods – which was up 18% – spending on groceries was up 12%, and clothing, which was up 11%.
This contrasted with a falloff in spending on transport (-25%) and accommodation (-10%) as people appeared to restrict their movements in response to the new Covid variant.
Some areas of the retail economy did experience a Christmas spending rush, with florists recording an 84% monthly spending hike, Bank of Ireland’s data showed.
Jewellery shops also recorded an 84% increase amid gift buying for the holiday season.
“There are encouraging signs across parts of the retail economy, and the fact that hospitality outlets were at least able to trade until 8pm daily ensured many were in a better place than in December 2020,” John O’Beirne, Director of Business Banking at Bank of Ireland said.
“The spending data shows that the public still preferred to do their December shopping in person (64%), rather than online (36%) during the Christmas period, although the annual ‘trip to town’ or ‘festive catch-up’ was probably postponed by many,” he added.