New figures from the Central Bank show that total credit and debit card spending, including ATM withdrawals, reached €5.3 billion in February.

This marked an increase of 3% on the previous month, but was down 9% on the same time last year.

The Central Bank noted that in-store spending increased by 8% in February compared to January, despite Level 5 restrictions continuing to curtail in-person expenditure, but in-store spending was down 17% on an annual basis. 

The grocery and hardware sectors recorded the largest month-on-month increases in spending, while the education sector saw the largest monthly decline, although the Central Bank said this reflected a seasonal trend where spending in this sector generally decreases in February. 

In annual terms, the transport, accommodation and restaurant sectors continue to be the most negatively impacted by lower spending, the Central Bank added.

Today's figures show that ATM withdrawals rose by 7% over the month.

But they remain significantly subdued compared to the pre-pandemic period, recording a year-on-year decline of 40% compared to February last year.

Meanwhile, online spending was largely unchanged in February compared to the previous month, falling by 1%. 

Online spending accounted for 54% of all point of sale spending in February, a slight decrease from January's record high of 57%.