A new tracker shows that the average consumer spend in Ireland rose for the third month in a row in December.

Deloitte's latest State of the Consumer Tracker shows that the average consumer spend rose by €45 to €2,577 last month.

The tracker shows that spending on housing remains the top item, but this dropped by 2% to 19% of overall spending on a monthly basis.

Spending on groceries, restaurants and healthcare all rose by 1% last month, with discretionary spending up 1.6% overall.

But plans to spend on recreation, entertainment and leisure travel recorded a 1% decrease to 9% in December compared to November.

The Deloitte survey tracks Irish consumers' attitudes towards personal well-being, financial concerns, travel and hospitality, transport and retail and the most recent data was gathered between 23 and 26 December last year.

The survey shows that safety concerns around in-person activities remain but have levelled off in some areas.

The number of consumers feeling safe staying in a hotel saw the biggest decrease (down 9% to 48%), while those feeling safe taking a flight dropped by 6% to 33%.

Almost half of those surveyed felt safe going to a restaurant (49%, down 1%) while only one-in-three felt safe about attending in-person events (32%, down 2%).

Deloitte said the number of consumers who replaced in-person experiences with digital services increased by 4% to 44%.

It also noted a drop of 3% in the number of those concerned about making upcoming payments to 22%, while the number of those delaying large purchases was also down 3% to 46%.

However, just over half of consumers are worried about the amount of money they have managed to save (52%, down 1%).

Today's survey reveals that the number of consumers in Ireland who are not concerned by inflation rose by 2% to 11%, and 45% of those surveyed in Ireland now feel optimistic that the financial situation in the country will improve within three years. This compares with an average of 48% globally.

The survey also shows that consumers intent to spend online remains constant among consumers in Ireland, with slight fluctuations in clothing and footwear (down 2% to 39%), electronics (down 3% to 38%), and restaurants (down 1% to 34%).

Meanwhile, more than one in five of those surveyed in Ireland plan to buy a vehicle in the next six months, up 1% to 22% - the first such increase in the last three waves of research. Of those purchasing, 40% plan to buy a new vehicle (up 2%), the second such increase in a row.

Daniel Murray, Partner and Head of Consumer at Deloitte Ireland, said that consumers started 2022 with renewed confidence that the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic has passed, with restrictions being lifted that will enable more economic activity - particularly in the hospitality and leisure sectors.

"While just over one in 10 people are not concerned about inflation, it is evident that it is still a key consideration for many. CSO figures released last week show inflation of 5.5% at a 20-year high, and people will continue to face rising bills, particularly for their home heating and running vehicles," Mr Murray said.

"The trend of more consumers replacing in-person services with digital experiences continues apace and is likely to be a lasting legacy of the pandemic. In the past certain cohorts of people preferred to buy something in-store than online, but restrictions have shown them the convenience and ease of purchasing online," he said.

"Many people will continue to enjoy in-person experiences, but businesses now need to offer that hybrid experience where possible, or they will lose out as a result," he added.