Rugby victories fail to boost social spending

Despite Ireland’s Rugby World Cup victories social spending declined while overall debit and credit card spend fell in September, according to Bank of Ireland.

Debit and credit card spending in September 2023 fell by a total of 8% when compared to the previous month’s outlay, according to Bank of Ireland data.

This maintains a trend which has seen September spending fall back by between 6% and 8% throughout 2021, 2022 and 2023. While the back to school period seems to dampen our spending, Irish consumers’ spending in France jumped 9%, no doubt driven by rugby fans.

“Ireland’s victories at the Rugby World Cup didn’t produce a social spending boost at home, even if card outlay rose in France as the competition progressed”

The latest Bank of Ireland Spending Pulse recorded drops in both social spending (-14%) and in the Retail sector (-7%), as consumers tightened their belts as ‘back to school’ mode kicked back in. Despite Ireland’s matches at the Rugby World Cup becoming appointment viewing, with the clash against the Springboks on September 23rd drawing the largest TV audience of the year so far, monthly pub spending was down 19% in total, with outlay in restaurants falling by 17% and in fast-food outlets by 14%. 

Silver lining

A similar story emerged internationally, with spending in Greece (-23%), Portugal (-18%), Spain (-13%) and Germany (-11%) all dipping.

There was however a silver lining of sorts when spending in France (+9%) was analysed, with the hordes of Irish rugby fans contributing to a spending spike as they attended Ireland’s matches in Bordeaux, Nantes and Paris.

The regional domestic breakdown was gloomy also, with spending drops of 9% recorded in Donegal, Kildare, Laois, Louth, Mayo and Meath.

Spending amongst the different age groups also plunged in September, with teenagers (-20%) bucking a recent trend where they led the way in the spending stakes. Spending amongst 18 – 25-year-olds fell by 6% as they marked their return to colleges and training courses, the 26 – 35 cohort tightened their belts considerably by posting a 9% drop and outlay amongst 36 – 45-year-olds fell by 10%.

“With memories of the summer holidays receding it was not surprising to see spending decline in certain areas, with travel impacted in particular,” said Jilly Clarkin, head of Customer Journeys and SME Markets at Bank of Ireland.

“Car rental outlay fell by 30%, accommodation spend dropped by 21%, bus travel by 14%, and toll fees by 6%, as many people fell back into their regular routines close to home.

“Ireland’s victories at the Rugby World Cup didn’t produce a social spending boost at home, even if card outlay rose in France as the competition progressed. Perhaps the ever-growing number of fans supporting Andy Farrell’s side are biding their time until the knockout stages begin, which could see October’s spending rise dramatically if Ireland can reach the final in Paris at the end of this month.”

BoI debit and credit card transactions: September 2023 vs. August 2023

Cinemas                                  -54%
Car rental                                -30%
Tourist Attractions                -26%
Accommodation                    -21%
Florists                                     -8%
Barber shops                          -7%
John Kennedy
Award-winning editor John Kennedy is one of Ireland's most experienced business and technology journalists.