People spent more on socialising in December despite Omicron

Revolut reports consumer expenditure 5% more than November in run-up to Christmas

Spending on socialising rose in Ireland in December, new data from fintech Revolut shows, despite the threat from the new Omicron variant of Covid-19 and the tightening of restrictions on hospitality.

The monthly report showed a significant increase in spending on Covid testing, Revolut said, with users of its services spending 159 per cent more on testing last month compared with November 2021.

The growth indicates some customers were testing to ensure they could safely socialise in addition to those who were testing to confirm symptoms, Revolut said.

But average user spend actually fell with customers spending €62.91 on tests during the month, down from more than €68 in November. The decline could be attributed to a fall in the price of tests ahead of a push for the Government to subsidise the cost of rapid tests.


Overall, consumer spending for December was 5 per cent higher than in November.

Fast food

Spending in bars rose 8 per cent month on month, with the outlay on fast food up 3 per cent. Spending was unchanged in hotels. The Government introduced an 8pm curfew on hospitality on December 20th.

Travel expenditure declined, with airlines down 31 per cent, travel agent spending down 25 per cent and cruise lines down 24 per cent, amid ongoing uncertainty over travel plans caused by the new variant.

There was a surge in spending at hairdressers and barbers, which saw a 28 per cent increase, and Christmas shopping-fuelled increases at jewellers, book shops, department stores and toy shops.

There was also a significant proportion of spending in person rather than online. Digital categories saw significant growth during the month, with digital games up by 29 per cent and spending on digital content up 10 per cent. Some 65 per cent of spending in December was carried out physically, with 35 per cent online.

Online vs in person

"Our data has shown that when they are fully locked down, Irish consumers will quickly shift to online spending to meet their needs. Equally, when the opportunity allows, they do like to spend in person and to socialise – as they did in December," said Sebastian Hamilton, head of public affairs at Revolut Ireland

“At the same time, though, the huge surge in expenditure on testing shows that people were also highly responsible in trying to ensure that if they were planning to socialise, they were doing so as safely as possible.”

Revolut compiles the monthly reports based on the spending trends of its more than 1.5 million Irish customers.

Spending at cinemas was 22 per cent higher month on month, and clothing and shoes also saw higher expenditure last month, up 14 per cent and 29 per cent respectively.

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist