THE cost of living crisis is the top concern for people in Northern Ireland, according to new research.
Consumer champion, Which?, has found that 85 per cent of people in the north are worried about energy prices, - a huge increase on the 52 per cent last year.
It carried out extensive research with more than 1,000 people during November and December 2021 to uncover and understand the key issues experienced by consumers.
Energy prices were cited as the main concern among 85 per cent of people, with 70 per cent of people confirming they had already experienced an increase in the prices in December last year.
In a bid to offset the impact of higher energy prices, 46 per cent of people said they had put the heating on less, whilst one in four had reduced their use of lights and appliances around the home.
A fifth of people said they had shopped around for a better deal.
Meanwhile, 84 per cent of people were concerned about fuel prices and 79 per cent about food prices.
This was compared to 53 per cent and 62 per cent last year.
It was also found that consumers in Northern Ireland were significantly more likely to be worried about fuel prices compared to the other devolved nations.
Sixty-five per cent of people revealed they had already noticed higher food prices.
Many of these people had reported adapting their behaviour by buying cheaper alternative products or cheaper brands, buying extra items when on promotion or shopping around in other stores or online shops.
Nine per cent of people said they had gone so far as to skip meals.
Rocio Concha, director of policy and advocacy at Which?, said: "Rising prices are already causing financial distress among consumers and the war in the Ukraine is going to mean higher prices for longer.
"Many more households will need support as energy bills and other costs rise this year," she said.
"Businesses and regulators - as well as the UK and Northern Irish governments - must work quickly to ensure they are ready to support anyone struggling to make ends meet".