Bank of Ireland September Spending Analysis Reveals Slow Down in Consumer Activity across the Country

  • Spending for the month down 6% when compared with August
  • Social spending down on the previous month; education spend soars
  • Accommodation outlay falls significantly – county by county declines recorded

Bank of Ireland debit and credit card transactions in September dropped significantly when compared to the previous month as consumer activity nationwide slowed down. The data reveals an overall decline in the social spending (-11%) as people returned to their more regular routines following a busy August filled with stay-cations and children’s activities. Restaurants suffered a fall-off of 18% in September, the popularity of fast-food outlets fell also (-17%) and pubs were less busy than during the summer – experiencing a monthly spending decline of 22%.

Transport data reveals a slow-down in domestic travel, just a 3% rise overall. Spending on train and bus journeys was reflective of this slight jump, both rising by only 2% respectively, while car rental spend dropped by 17% in September and toll road fees dropped by 1%. Airline spending rose 20% however, perhaps an indicator of people eyeing up a city or sunshine break for later in the year. The Bank of Ireland analysis did reveal though that international spending dipped as debit and credit card activity in Portugal (-6%), the UK (-5%), Italy (-1%) and Spain (-1%) fell across the board.

With the memories of August’s lovely weather receding the entertainment sector also took a hit in September, going up by just 2%, which contrasts with a 13% rise the previous month. Bowling alleys were an outlier in this area, enjoying a 78% spending surge during the month, but amusement parks (-47%), cinemas (-36%) and casinos (-5%) all witnessed spending levels decline. As entertainment levels dipped it was no surprise to see spending in the education sector soar (+99%) as students nationwide dusted off the books. Spending in universities in particular rose strongly, with a 162% monthly rise recorded.

County by county the spending picture remained the same, with falls recorded across the provinces. Cork spending took a -5% hit, as did spending in Kerry (-5%), Donegal (-4%), Wexford (-5%), Dublin (-5%) and Tipperary (-6%). The accommodation industry, buoyed by a strong August had to make further adjustments in September, with hotel spend down by 30% and trailer parks and campsites suffering a dip of 50%.

Commenting on September’s spending patterns, John O’Beirne, Director of Business Banking at Bank of Ireland said: “We can see from the debit and credit card transactions that September was a slower month on the consumer front, with the summer buzz beginning to wear off and belts tightening somewhat. That said, when we look at the age breakdown in terms of spending the over-65 category remained stable in terms of outlay (no % change), which contrasted strongly with the 18 – 25 cohort (-8%) and the 26 – 35 cohort (-7%). The data clearly shows that those with more money already saved are still looking to spend, while those climbing the economic ladder are holding steady.

All going to plan October sees the lifting of the last round of Covid-19 restrictions and we can all aim for a full return to the kind of things we took for granted prior to the pandemic. This next stage of ‘freedom’ will hopefully feed into the wider economy as the remaining shuttered sectors reopen their doors, and it will be interesting to see what the spending data tells us in the week and months to come.”

Bank of Ireland debit card and credit card transactions – September 2021 versus August 2021


  • Education +99%
  • Transport +3%
  • Entertainment +2%
  • Accommodation -30%
  • Bars -22%
  • Restaurants -18%
  • Car Rentals -17%
  • Groceries -9%