Business

Vaccine rollout continuing to drive consumer confidence in Northern Ireland

People entering into the vaccination centre at the SSE Arena in Belfast. Picture by Mal McCann.

CONSUMER confidence in the north continued to rise into the second quarter of 2021, driven by the response to the vaccine programme, according to new analysis from Danske Bank.

The lender’s quarterly consumer confidence index rose for the third successive quarter, with more people reporting confidence about their finances, job security and expenditure on expensive items.

Danske Bank said the findings should support consumer spending and wider economic growth.

Just under half (48 per cent) of those who responded highlighted the coronavirus vaccination programme as positively impacting their confidence.

The number of fully vaccinated adults in the north passed the one million mark this week.

The survey, which was conducted in June, showed 12 per cent of respondents pointing to the easing of restrictions as a significant positive.

An equal proportion cited the continuation of some restrictions as the main negative.

The biggest factor negatively impacting consumer confidence was Brexit. Some 40 per cent said the post-Brexit trading arrangements made them feel less confident, while another 12 per cent of those surveyed said the impact of higher prices on their household finances had the largest adverse impact.

The survey has once again exposed the inequality prevalent during the pandemic.

One-in-three (33 per cent) felt their financial position had improved over the previous 12 months, with 30 per cent expecting to spend more on high value items over the next year.

In contrast, 21 per cent of people said their finances had deteriorated since last year, and one-in-ten expressed fears for their job security.

Danske Bank’s chief economist Conor Lambe said the impact of the vaccine programme was evident in the latest survey.

“Given the success of the rollout, coupled with the gradual easing of the restrictions, the economy appears to have begun to recover at a reasonably strong pace.

“This latest increase in confidence is another positive development which should support consumer spending as we move forward and adds more credence to the view that the recovery from the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic will hopefully occur more quickly than had previously been expected.”

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