From The Irish Times.

Rise in confidence driven by domestic factors as improved sentiment in Ireland contrasts markedly with other countries

Irish consumer sentiment improved modestly in October as support measures rolled out in Budget 2024 made consumers a little less gloomy about their household finances, according to a consumer sentiment report.

The Credit Union Consumer Sentiment Survey is a monthly survey carried out by Core Research of a nationally representative sample of 1,000 adults. The October survey was taken between October 4th and 18th.

The report said the uptick in confidence was driven by domestic factors as improved sentiment in Ireland contrasted markedly with weaker results in the latest readings for similar confidence measures for the US, Germany and the UK.

The broad tone of Irish consumer sentiment remained cautious as cost-of-living concerns remained elevated and nervousness about the outlook for jobs has increased. “However, Budget 2024 measures seem to have encouraged some improvement in household spending plans in October,” the report noted.

Consumer sentiment increased to 60.4 in October from 58.8 in September, which reversed just under half the 3.4-point fall seen between August and September. It left Irish consumer sentiment clearly below the 15-month high of 64.5 recorded in July and some considerable distance below the 27-year survey average of 84.9.

Four of the five key elements of the survey posted monthly gains between September and October. The exception was consumer thinking on the outlook for jobs which weakened to its lowest level in seven months.

There was a modest easing in concerns in relation to household finances, which coincided with an improvement in consumer spending plans.

“Again it should be noted that the October reading points to considerable caution in relation to the buying climate at present,” the report said. “However, it may be that budget measures have made more consumers both able and willing to spend.”

However, the report said that as many as 256,000, or 12 per cent, of domestic customers were in arrears on their electricity bills in June.

One in three consumers said neither the Irish economy nor their own finances were doing well. “This may reflect consumers’ judgment that economic performance is best measured by a palpable sense of rising real incomes rather than widely used technical metrics,” the report continued.

One in four consumers said that while they felt the Irish economy was doing well, their personal financial circumstances did not reflect that. This response was more prevalent among those over 55, among men and among those citing difficulties in making ends meet.

Just under one in five consumers judged the Irish economy to be doing well and said they were benefiting either a lot or a little. These responses tended to be a little more common among Dublin-based consumers, men, those aged over 65, and those with the strongest educational qualifications, higher income, and those indicating they were comfortably making ends meet.

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson is an Irish Times reporter