Brexit may weigh on shops, report finds

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Pessimism about the economic costs of Brexit is weighing on consumers north and south of the border, reports from KBC Bank and accountants RSM has found.

RSM’s survey shows consumers are worrying about Brexit. That has implications on how much will be spent in shops in 2019.

“This report indicates that consumers in Northern Ireland are feeling the strain of Brexit more than their counterparts in the Republic, especially younger people. Consumers in Northern Ireland believe that Brexit could have a major impact on income, and this is being felt more by younger generations than older people,” said Áine Farrelly, chief operating officer of RSM Ireland.

Over the next 12 months, retailers will need to work harder to encourage consumers to part with their money,” she said.

The monthly KBC report which the bank puts together with the Economic and Social Research Institute found consumers in Ireland were “cautious but not in panic mode”.

The bank’s chief economist Austin Hughes, said: “The broad message from the November sentiment survey is that while the average Irish consumer believes in Brexit risks rather than the boom and is increasingly cautious, Christmas has not been cancelled.”

However, he warns of a potential growing regional threat, as Dublin taps a jobs spurt.

“In 2018, employment has increased by 5.8% in Dublin compared to a rise of 2% elsewhere. It could be the case that Dublin-centric media and some commentators see the improved recent Dublin performance as indicative of a national return to the boom whereas slightly softer jobs growth outside the capital is one factor weighing on consumer sentiment of late,” he said.

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