Spending on air travel increased 39% in August compared to a month earlier, new data compiled from AIB debit and credit cards shows, as people took advantage of the loosened restrictions to travel abroad.

But restaurants here also benefited from staycationing and the reopening of the sector over the summer, with expenditure in August up 4% compared to July.

"Since the hospitality sector reopened a few months ago, we have seen a steady increase in spending by consumers across hotels, pubs and restaurants," said John Brennan, Head of SME Banking at AIB.

However, other sectors recorded significant declines in spend, including groceries, which were down 9% month on month and health and beauty which fell 8%.

Hardware sales fell 6% and homeware spending was down 4%.

Despite it being a busy month for holidaying, spending in hotels dropped 1% compared to July.

"Elsewhere, we saw overall spend decrease this month when compared with July, with consumer goods sectors such as clothing, health and beauty and electronics all down," said Mr Brennan.

The AIB Spend Trend also reveals that the busiest day for consumer spending during August was Friday 27th, which was pay day for many.

On that day consumers spent around €8m an hour.

Spending across all demographics was down, with the exception of under 25s.

The trend data also shows that Kerry was the top location for summer holidays, followed by Galway and Cork.

Last year, Cork was the most popular, followed by Kerry.

Meanwhile, new research from Aer Lingus shows that 65% of adults in Ireland are planning to make a trip abroad in the next six months.

Aer Lingus said that of those 65% intending to fly abroad in the next six months, 17% will visit a Christmas Market and 31% will enjoy a city break.

But the majority of respondents (47%) will be reuniting with family and friends and 11% say they will travel to celebrate a missed milestone they could npt meaningfully mark during the Covid pandemic.

Today's research shows that 25 to 34-year-olds are particularly eager to get flying, with 81% of that age group intending to travel abroad in the next six months.