Consumer confidence levels hit six-month low

The largest monthly sentiment decline in a year and a half has illustrated the fragility of Irish consumers’ new-found confidence, a survey has shown.

The latest edition of the monthly consumer sentiment index, from KBC Bank Ireland and economic think-tank the ESRI, shows a fall in reading from 105.8 in February to 100.6 in March. As a result, consumer confidence is now at its lowest level for six months.

A downgrading of Irish economic prospects, domestic political uncertainty, worry about the global economy and the Brexit issue were key drivers, according to the survey’s authors.

“It remains the case Irish consumers are generally confident about their economic circumstances,” said KBC Bank Ireland’s chief economist Austin Hughes. 

“However, the scale of the pull-back in sentiment in March again underlines how tentative the improvement in these circumstances are for many consumers

“The three-month moving average of the sentiment series fell for the first time since September, confirming a significant change in the mood of Irish consumers last month,” he added. 

The weakest part of the survey related to economic outlook and suggested many people are worried about global effects.

“There is little question that uncertainty about the global economy served to counter what continued to be a strong sequence of domestic economic data through the survey period including healthy jobs numbers and notably better-than-expected GDP figures.

“Our sense is that Irish consumers felt the braoder economic newsflow, of late, impled that future readings of thse domestic indicators might not be so robust,” said Mr Hughes.


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