Travel, Accommodation and Leisure Spending Rises as Consumers React to Ease in Lockdown

Golf, Sporting Camps and Ticket Sales See a Spike in Spending

Bank of Ireland debit card spending analysis for April reveals a 5% drop in overall consumer spending from March, with the retail and grocery sectors suffering drops while travel, recreation and accommodation spending rose. Consumers spent 4% more on airline tickets in April, toll charges rose by 15% as people took to the roads once the tight travel restrictions eased, while cruise line spending recorded a 14% monthly increase.

Spending was up 11% overall on accommodation, with debit card charges up 9% on hotels, motels and resorts. Clearly, many people are hoping that out-door accommodation might be the best way to enjoy a holiday this summer, with tent shops seeing a 55% increase in spend. The impending loosening of restrictions bodes well for sports clubs, with spending up 167% in this sector and spending on sporting goods up another 5%. Dublin Zoo (+1,367%) and Fota Wildlife Park (+619%) were also the focus of massive spending surges following confirmation they’d be allowed to welcome visitors once more after months of closure.

Golf course spending rose a massive 56% in April, and spending in zoos and aquariums was up 168% month on month as people started planning for life beyond lockdown. Theatrical ticket agencies recorded a spending spike of 56%, but cinema spending was down 15% as reality continues to hit hard in some areas.

Overall April debit card spending levels paint a mixed picture, showing that people are eyeing up opportunities to get out and about, but perhaps also pulling back a little in certain areas that had performed strongly in recent months – most notably in the hospitality sector which suffered a 4% drop overall. Spending in fast-food restaurants decreased by 5%, while the popularity of ‘dine-at-home’ restaurant offerings suffered a dip of 7%. However bars offering a take-away service had a good month, recording a 10% rise on the previous month.

With working from home becoming the norm for many people in the past year it appears that most are well set-up by now, with debit card spending on home office equipment falling by 6%, as well as a 15% monthly fall in consumer demand for electrical goods. Debit card spending in grocery stores and supermarkets fell by 10% in April, while spending in pharmacies fell by 8%. Clothing spend was flat month on month as consumers spent heavily in this area during March, while spending in shoe stores rose by 20% in April.

Commenting on these debit card spending patterns, Christian Pierce, Group Chief Data and Analytics Officer at Bank of Ireland said: “Following on from the cross-sector spending spikes we witnessed in March the data for April tells a more nuanced story. There is no doubt that the easing of lockdown restrictions has seen people plan in a more optimistic manner, with trips to hotels, rounds of golf and summer camps all on the agenda. In contrast though there have been dips recorded in other areas, such as grocery and retail, and the flat-lining of clothes spending in April suggests that many people have shifted their spending priorities elsewhere.

With the vaccine roll-out gathering pace on a weekly basis consumers can hopefully look forward to getting out and about this summer, seeing parts of the country they may not have been to before and discovering new places. An 11% rise in accommodation spending in April, allied to increased travel spending patterns, certainly suggests that people are keen to get going once cleared to do so. So while April spending saw a slight dip overall, a more detailed analysis reveals that people are looking forward to a brighter summer ahead.”

Bank of Ireland debit card transactions – April 2021 versus March 2021

Up / Down

  • Tent shops +55%
  • Barber & Beauty -8%
  • Bicycle shops +9%
  • Charitable donations -13%
  • Hardware stores +5%
  • Transport – airlines +4
  • Garden Stores +21%
  • Electrical Goods -15%