One-in-four Northern Ireland consumers worse off than a year ago, says new survey

Consumer confidence fell again in the third quarter of 2019 according to the latest analysis by Danske Bank
Ryan McAleer

ONE-in-four consumers believe their financial situation deteriorated over the past year, a new survey out today suggests.

Consumer confidence fell again in the third quarter of 2019 according to the latest analysis by Danske Bank. But around one fifth of those surveyed said they had benefited from improved pay conditions in recent months.

Although the index is higher than the same quarter in 2018, the lender's chief economist Conor Lambe said Brexit and the political stalemate at Stormont contributed to a steady fall in confidence throughout the year.

“Twenty-three per cent of respondents said that the progress during the Brexit negotiations in recent months had the largest negative impact on how they were feeling, while a further 9 per cent highlighted the UK Government's longer-term Brexit objectives as a factor adversely impacting them,” he said.

“It's clear that how the Brexit process develops over the coming days and weeks will have a significant impact on consumer confidence levels during the rest of 2019 and beyond.”

The bank's analysis is based on a survey carried out by Cognisense in September 2019 with 1,022 people.

Twenty per cent of respondents felt their financial position had improved over the past twelve months but 25 per cent felt it had deteriorated.

One-in-four expect their finances to worsen over the next year, while 18 per cent predicted an improvement in their fiscal positon.

Some 25 per cent also said they will spent less on big ticket items such as furniture and holidays over the next 12 months.

However, one-in-five suggested they would spend more on expensive goods.

Mr Lambe said that around 20 per cent of people indicated that rising wages had a beneficial impact in recent months. Another 11 per cent pointed to low interest rates as positively influencing how they were feeling.”

“Throughout this year, consumer purchasing power has been relatively robust due to stronger rates of wage growth and more moderate inflation,” said the economist.

“For businesses in consumer-focused sectors – such as retailers, hotels and restaurants – confidence levels will be an important determinant in the months ahead when it comes to how willing people are to convert that purchasing power into actual increases in consumer spending.”

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