November proved a difficult month for retailers

For the third consecutive month, Irish consumer spending fell with clothing and footwear the hardest hit.  

Visa’s Irish Consumer Spending Index, which measures expenditure across all payment types, signalled a third successive decrease in consumer spending during November.

Down by almost two per cent (1.9pc) year-on-year, the reduction was slightly stronger than that seen in October (-1.4pc), but softer than in September.

“The sharp decline was likely influenced by the later than usual timing of Cyber Monday”

For the first time since February 2018, the eCommerce channel registered a worse performance than face-to-face. Ecommerce spending was down 4.1pc year-on-year, following a rise in expenditure during October.

This marked the sharpest reduction in spending in the series so far. The solid decline in spending in November potentially reflects the fact that Black Friday occurred at the end of November in 2019, with Cyber Monday falling in December.

Face-to-face spending also declined by 0.6pc year-on-year, and although the fall was only marginal, the decline may raise concerns amongst smaller retailers who rely on face-to-face spend as we move into the festive period.

“The high street seems to have weathered the storm much better, experiencing only a marginal decline”

At such a critical trading time for smaller merchants, support for independent retailers and merchants has never been more important, and Visa’s ‘Where you shop matters’ campaign aims to highlight this by urging Irish consumers to shop local this Christmas.

According to research carried out by Visa, just over half of Irish shoppers (52pc) said they would make purchases in a local business in the run up to Christmas, specifically to support local shopkeepers. This sentiment suggests a positive outlook for face-to-face spending across December, which may give rise to stronger consumer spending overall as people prepare for Christmas and the New Year.

In November, the sharpest reduction in spending was seen in clothing and footwear. Expenditure was down by 5pc year-on-year and extended the current sequence of decline to eight months.

Commenting on the decline in spending, Philip Konopik, Ireland country manager for Visa said; “Although eCommerce fared badly in terms of spend across November, the sharp decline was likely influenced by the later than usual timing of Cyber Monday. Having said that, the high street seems to have weathered the storm much better, experiencing only a marginal decline.

“As our research shows, Irish shoppers are more inclined to shop locally during the festive season, so retailers will be hoping this translates into a positive sales performance in the last month of the year.”

By Stephen Larkin

Published: 20 December, 2019