Irish credit and debit card spending was 8% higher year-on-year in December even as a surge in COVID-19 cases led to a curfew being imposed on the hospitality sector from the middle of the month, central bank data has revealed.
The higher spending came after household deposits fell at the largest monthly rate in 11 years in November, new data from the bank also showed, suggesting consumers may be beginning to unwind record levels of savings built up during the pandemic.
Card spending, including ATM transactions, rose annually in all sectors last month, the central bank said. The jump was most clearly seen in transport and accommodation, which increased by 80% and 81% respectively.
The economy was open for most of the corresponding period in December 2020 before restaurants, pubs and some shops were ordered to close completely on Christmas Eve and department stores urged to defer in-store holiday sales.
As a result, spending in the seven days following Christmas Day 2021 was 19% higher than the same week in December 2020.
The savings data showed that household deposits decreased by €1.4 billion in November from a record €136 billion a month earlier. Savings were still 8.8% or almost €11 billion higher year-on-year.
Ireland's economy weathered one of Europe's longest COVID-19 shutdowns last year, with data earlier this week showing it collected a record amount of tax, far outstripping the previous pre-pandemic peak.
Separate and more detailed Central Statistics Office figures also showed on Friday (7 January) that retail sales volumes rose 0.6% month-on-month in November when the economy was largely open and were 10.9% up on pre-pandemic levels in the same period of 2019.