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Consumers

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Ireland consumed €8bn worth of ICT products in 2019. Most of this (€7.6bn) was domestically produced, however, €0.4bn was imported from abroad. This chapter is divided into two parts as we categorise consumers into two groups: firms that consume ICT in their production processes (intermediate consumption) and households who consume the remainder (final consumption). There was €4.7bn worth of intermediate consumption of ICT by firms and €3.3bn consumed by households in 2019.

Although Government and non-profit entities are also consumers of ICT services, for practical reasons, we don’t present an analysis of their consumption in this publication.

X-axis labelShare of Overall ICT Intermediate Consumption
Computer Programming & Consultancy (62-63)23.8491532735518
Software and Other Publishing (58-60)10.2215416193026
Financial Services (64)9.29674345971561
Wholesale Trade (46)8.6430403058578
Real Estate (68)4.46341218887517
Head Office & Management Consultancy (70)4.3547028892928
Manufacture of Chemicals (20)4.07106535267946
Petrol Refining, Pharmaceuticals, Electronic & Optical Products (19,21,26,28,31,32)3.85675153505234
Security, Office & Business Support (80-82)3.78088482083967
Telecommunications (61)2.85705029680671

Get the data: PxStat VCA23

Consumption by Computer Programming and Consulting Services accounted for 24% of the total use of ICT products, making it clearly the biggest consumer, as Figure 6.1 shows. The next largest consumer was an ICT producer as well- Software and Other Media, which took up 10% of the total. This was closely followed by Financial services at 9%. The other ICT subsector, Telecommunications, accounted for just 3% of overall ICT intermediate consumption

X-axis labelProportion of Sector Intermediate Consumption
Telecommunications (61)35.2980591746723
Financial Services (64)32.8378617262918
Cultural, Arts & Gambling (90-92)32.3433124481318
Legal & Accounting (69)32.3334576394817
Rental & Leasing (77)23.9323943124084
Head Office & Management Consultancy (70)23.7074614375887
Membership Organisation (94)23.5181065454431
Repair of Consumer Goods (95)22.7609102031586
Real Estate (68)21.5775675593923
Security, Office & Business Support (80-82)21.1975419649814
Printing & Reproduction of Recorded Media (18)20.8179022565457
Software and Other Media (58-60)16.9212473445522

Get the data: PxStat VCA23

Figure 6.2 looks at how important ICT products are to the various sectors in the Irish economy. The bars show the proportion of each sector’s intermediate consumption that is ICT (only the sectors in which ICT is significant are shown). For example, 35% of all products consumed in the Telecommunications sector were ICT products (Telecommunications also consumed non-ICT goods and services such as advertising services and network hardware). ICT services accounted for more than 30% of intermediate consumption in three other sectors: Financial Services, Arts and Gambling, and Legal and Accounting. Only 17% of the intermediate consumption in Software and Other Media was of ICT services, while less than 10% of IT and Information Services’ intermediate consumption was of this type. Most of the consumption by the ICT sector, as we saw, was of royalties, which are not classified as ICT but as licensing services.

Household Consumption

The final consumption of ICT products is only partly visible in the national accounts. As explained in the previous chapter, this is due to how ICT consumption is measured. Final consumption of ICT consists of several components, some of which are better captured than others. Household consumption of communication products has a distinct product category and was valued at €2.3bn in 2019. Similarly, household consumption of non-software media can be isolated. This was worth €678m in 2019.

However, final consumption of ICT products is not measured as a distinct product category. Licences and subscriptions for online services cannot be disaggregated from other regular payments such as television licences. Much of ICT services consumption is financially free for consumers.

Many online services involve the purchase of manufactured products over the internet. Under international statistical standards, the full value of a manufactured product consumed by households will appear in the product code that it is associated with, regardless of how it was purchased (for example, online, by phone, by postal correspondence or in a shop). The same applies to non-ICT services purchased via the internet: for example, spending on insurance policies or gambling online is classified under those product codes, not ICT spending.

This section uses the rich data source from the Information Society publication to illustrate how people used online services in 2019. 

X-axis labelConsumers
Clothes or Sports Goods51
Holiday Accommodation47
Other Travel Arrangements45
Tickets for Events45
Household Goods27
Electronic Equipment25
Books, Magazines and Newspapers24
Telecommunication Services22
E-books11
E-magazines/Newspapers5

Source Publication: Information Society

Clothes or sports goods were the most popular online purchase in 2019, purchased by over half (51%) of internet users. The next most common types of internet purchases were Holiday Accommodation (47%), and Other Travel Arrangements (includes travel tickets and car hire) and Tickets for Events, both at 45%. Internet users spent the least on E-books and E-magazines at 11% and 5% respectively.

X-axis labelProportion of Consumers
1 to 2 Purchases29
3 to 5 Purchases38
6 to 10 Purchases19
More than 10 Purchases14

Source Publication: Information Society

Figure 6.4 shows people who purchased online in the (October-December 2018) classified by number of purchases. One third (33%) of individuals who purchased online did so six or more times. Between six and ten internet purchases were made by almost one fifth (19%) of internet users, while 14% purchased eleven times or more over the internet. In 2019, 38% of people made three to five purchases.

X-axis label20182019
16-296265
30-445461
45-594349
60-742435

Source Publication: Information Society

In 2019, more than half (53%) of internet users used storage space on the internet (cloud storage) to save files (such as documents, pictures, music and videos), an increase of four percentage points on the same period in 2018. Nearly two thirds (65%) of internet users in the 16 to 29 years age group used cloud storage as a form of file storage in 2019, compared with just 35% of individuals in the 60 to 74 years age group.

Consumption Online 2019-2021

Figure 6.6 shows the trend in online sales since 2019. We briefly look at data outside the reference year, because the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly accelerated an upward trend.

X-axis labelOnline Sales
2018M123.3
2019M012.8
2019M023
2019M033
2019M043
2019M052.9
2019M063.4
2019M073.4
2019M083.2
2019M093.2
2019M103.4
2019M114
2019M124.1
2020M013.2
2020M023.5
2020M034.5
2020M0415.3
2020M0513.2
2020M066.7
2020M074.6
2020M084.5
2020M094.5
2020M106
2020M1112.4
2020M125.8
2021M0111
2021M0211.8
2021M0311.1
2021M0410.1
2021M055.6
2021M064.9
2021M074.8
2021M084.8
2021M094.6
2021M105.5
2021M116
2021M129.7

Get the data: PxStat RSM07

While the data from the Information Society publication surveyed consumers, this data in Figure 6.6 comes from a survey of sellers in Ireland – the Retail Sales Index (this does not include purchases from retailers abroad). As well as looking at how much retailers in each sector sold, since 2018 it has also looked at the proportion of sales that are online. We can see from the graph that there was a slight increase in the percentage of sales online during 2019, but in 2020 up to 15% of all sales by retailers in this country were over the Internet. As the restrictions have eased, the proportion of sales that are online has decreased, but it has settled at a higher level. The pandemic seems to have had a long-lasting effect on consumers’ habits.