AROUND half of the north’s households expect to have less money for Christmas this year and plan to cut back on spending as a result, a new survey suggests.
The latest Northern Ireland Credit Union Consumer Sentiment Index, published by the lender today, shows the mood among consumers remains subdued amid the cost-of-living crisis and general economic environment.
While pessimism appears to have receded since the start of the year, 50% of those surveyed still expect the economy to be worse shape in 12 months’ time.
That compared to 64% in January.
The number of households anticipating whether their own financial situation will be worse in one year’s time, also fell to 39% in the latest quarter – down from 51% at the start of the year.
But there was also a slight fall in the number of consumers who think their financial position will improve over the course of the coming year.
That portion slid from one-in-four (26%) to one-in-five (20%).
One-in-three consumers (34%) also said they believe it isn't a good time to purchase a big ticket item, with only 8% suggesting now it a good time.
The credit union research has also exposed the challenging environment for retail and hospitality businesses.
Ahead of the most important spending period of the year, 51% say they’ll spend less on presents and 52% will cut back on nights out.
Just one-in-20 of those surveyed expect to spend more this year.
The Irish League of Credit Unions’ northern manager, Martin Fisher said while some consumers may be starting to feel that the worst of the cost-of-living shock may be behind them, the economic and financial climate remains challenging for many households.
“We know in the credit union that many people have additional financial pressures which add to the stress of this time of year," he said.
“Everyone should be able to enjoy their Christmas and we encourage people who may be considering moneylenders or buying on the ‘never never’ to come in and talk to us.
“You will find that the cost of a credit union loan will be cheaper and will put less pressure on your household budget in the long run”.
Economist Austin Hughes, who prepared the report, said after improvements in the previous two quarters, consumer confidence in the north held broadly steady between August and November.
“In circumstances where similar consumer confidence measures for the UK as a whole, as well as the US and the Euro area, have been very weak in the past three months, this should be seen as a reasonably encouraging performance in terms of the circumstances of the Northern Ireland consumer."