Irish household spending has risen steadily for the past three months, according to Visa's Irish Consumer Spending Index.

The survey shows spending across all payment types – cash, cheques and electronic payments –increased by 2.5% year-on-year in July, up from +1.8% in June.

This was the third month running in which the rate of growth has accelerated, with the latest rise in spending the most marked since March this year.

Online spending rose for the third successive month in July, with expenditure up sharply (+8.9%) from the same month a year ago.

According to Visa, this trend underlines the growth in popularity of online shopping among Irish shoppers, with European Commission research released last month showing that the strongest growth in the number of online shoppers in the EU last year was in Ireland, where there was a 7.8% increase.

Over half (59.2%) of the Irish population made an online purchase in 2016 and Ireland also had the highest percentage of businesses (with at least ten employees) selling online.

Meanwhile, the research indicates face-to-face expenditure continued to fall in July, the tenth month running in which a decline has been recorded.

The pace of reduction, 0.5% year-on-year in July, was the slowest so far this year.

On a sectoral basis, hotels, restaurants & bars posted the fastest increase in spending, seeing growth of +9.1% year-on-year.

Recreation & culture spending also saw a sharp rise in expenditure (+6.7%), while household goods remained a strong performer (+7.2%).

Expenditure in clothing & footwear was up for the fourth month running in July and to the greatest extent since May 2016 (+3.2% year-on-year).

Transport & communication posted a marginal rise in spending (+0.3%) for the second month in a row.

According to the index, the only sector to see a reduction in expenditure was health & education, where spending was down 2.8% on the same month a year ago.

Ireland Country Manager for Visa Philip Konopik said the latest data show "the growth in Irish consumer spending remains modest, but encouragingly the rate of expansion has now accelerated over three consecutive months, with eCommerce as the key driver.

"The further improved unemployment rate, with increasing job prospects, is likely to help support further rises in consumer spending in the future."