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Consumers in the north the most pessimistic about UK economy, says report

Rising fuel prices was cited by consumers as the biggest financial concern

CONSUMERS in the north are most pessimistic about the prospects for the UK economy, according to a new report.

Analysis from Which? for 2018 shows that two in five people (42 per cent) in Northern Ireland believed the UK economy was in a poor state last year, while almost two-thirds (60 per cent) expected it to deteriorate in 2019.

By contrast, across the UK as a whole, only half (49 per cent) anticipated the economy would worsen.

Of chief concern was rising fuel prices, cited by three-quarters (74 per cent) of local respondents, compared to two-thirds in the UK (68 per cent).

Brexit was highlighted by seven out of 10 (71 per cent) consumers as a worry, along with public spending cuts, both to a greater degree than in the UK as a whole.

Energy bills and the cost of groceries were also among the most common worries for consumers in Northern Ireland.

More people in the north expected to increase spending on everyday essentials compared to consumers across the UK, according to the report, while hikes were also forecast in the cost of groceries and in relation to rent or mortgage payments.

In spite of the plethora of issues raised by consumers in the north, 71 per cent said they were satisfied with their life overall, compared to two-thirds UK-wide (65 per cent). Local people were also happier about their household financial position, with over half (51 per cent) describing it as good,

just above the UK figure of 49 per cent.

Caroline Normand, Which? director of advocacy, said the latest figures for Northern Ireland were concerning.

“This report highlights a worrying sense of pessimism among consumers in Northern Ireland, with Brexit, fuel costs and public spending weighing on people's minds more than anywhere else in the UK," she said.

“With uncertainty around Brexit and Stormont politics looming large, politicians, regulators and businesses in Northern Ireland must take heed of these findings and work to ensure consumers are not getting a raw deal when it comes to essential services.”

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