Ireland's online spending set to double by 2021


The amount that Irish consumers are spending online every year is accelerating rapidly, according to a new report from Virgin Media.

Some 94% of internet users now shop online, and the average amount those people are shelling out has risen 13% in just two years. 

It now stands at €80 per month per person.

The value of online spending is predicted to double by 2021 to €14.1bn. 

About 60% of Irish online shopping goes abroad. That could account for as much as €8.5bn by 2021 if that trend continues. Overall, the digital economy is worth €16 billion, which is 6% of Ireland’s GDP.

The survey was conducted as part of the new Virgin Media Digital Insights Report, launched this morning and looking at just how pervasive an impact digital technologies are having on almost every aspect of Irish society.

Not that everyone is completely happy with how connected they are right now...

Just 69% of Irish internet users say their home broadband speed is sufficient, leaving close to one in three unsatisfied with their current online experience.

Meanwhile, broadband is becoming evermore crucial to people. The average consumer would now demand compensation of €390 per month if their broadband service was removed. This was just €130 in 2014.

More connected

It also appears digital technology is generally improving our relationships, as 65% of the 1,000 respondents felt more connected to family and friends through digital communications. 

Some 39% of respondents believed it helped relationships with current or previous partners; 30% found them a hindrance.

However, a mere 24% said it helped with intimacy, while 37% said it hampered it. Almost half of people were worried about the impact of digital technology on their privacy.

Digital technologies have helped 71% of people with studying and learning new skills, while 62% of people are now watching TV in real-time online.

It's all change when it comes to the news, too.

News and current affairs websites are the main source of info for 43% of people, with only 38% now getting their primary updates from print. Social media is also creeping up on traditional media, with 36% of people getting their news and current affairs through these channels.

Just 12% of people would subscribe to a service to avoid advertising. 61% of people are aware of adblocking, while 32% have it installed. The vast majority of people would prefer to see advertising than pay for their digital content.

'Taking the leap to trading online'

Commenting on the report, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said:

"It is clear that the digital economy is growing at a very fast pace and it is essential that Irish businesses, in particular SMEs, capture this increasing market.

 “This report clearly highlights the huge opportunity for Irish businesses to increase their share of online sales.

"Taking the leap to trading online can be a big step for many Irish businesses. It is important that businesses are encouraged to trade online and to maximise the opportunities of the digital economy.

"Supports are in place to help, including the Trading Online Voucher Scheme, which was launched in 2014 as part of the Action Plan for Jobs and provides matching funding to establish an online trading presence."

Tony Hanway, CEO of Virgin Media, said:

“This is our third Digital Insights Report since 2012 and it shows how rapidly the Irish digital landscape is changing.

“The report found that Irish people place a very high value on digital technologies with a significant consumer surplus built into the compensation they would require if their broadband service was not available tomorrow.

"This is testament to the major extent that digital technologies have become central to daily life in Ireland."

Craig Fitzpatrick, 

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