Consumers spent 10% more in May compared to the previous month, according to new debit card spending data from Bank of Ireland.

The spike in spending coincides with the easing of Covid restrictions and the reopening of non-essential retail.

Spending in the retail, accommodation and transport sectors all grew last month, while spending on social activities was up 13%.

The data reveals that social spending overall now stands just 1% lower than it was prior to the onset of Covid-19.

Restaurant spending rose by 22% in May, as 'Dine-At-Home' options continued to grow in popularity, while spending on fast-food options also grew by 22% and bar spend was up 40%.

Wicklow, Donegal and Kilkenny recorded the largest rise in social spending, while people in Louth and Tipperary held a tighter rein on social spending during May.

A third of all social spending was carried out by people aged between 18 and 35.

Not surprisingly personal grooming saw a massive uplift in activity, with barber shops and beauty salons reopening their doors on 10 May.

A massive overall spending rise of 712% was recorded in this area.

The 56-65 age cohort led the way in terms of spending, with people in Laois, Sligo, and Roscommon spending the most in this sector.

Accommodation spending rose by 88% in May when compared to the previous month, however it still lay at 57% lower than its pre-Covid level, indicating that there is still plenty of scope for further growth in this area to return to its pre-pandemic state.

Meanwhile, spending on clothes rose by 56% month on month, while airline spending rose by 145% in May as more and more people were vaccinated and booked a foreign break.

"May saw consumers preening and prepping for the brighter days ahead," said Christian Pierce, Group Chief Data and Analytics Officer at Bank of Ireland.

"It's not surprising that barbershops were packed out in May, nor that airline spending has ticked up considerably - but it is noticeable that while some sectors are back at their pre-Covid levels, others have some ground to recover including accommodation and air travel," he added.