Consumer confidence shows rise at year-end

Consumers’ greater optimism in the state of their personal finances at the end of last year resulted in the second highest level of confidence seen since 2007.

The latest KBC/ESRI consumer sentiment index climbed to 90.5 in December from 85.3 in November, reflecting the increasingly positive, but still uneven, outlook among consumers.

Measures introduced in Budget 2015, low inflation, and greater clarity regarding water charges are proposed in the report as potential contributory factors in consumers’ improved outlook on their personal finances.

Despite the increase, however, more consumers still expect their financial situation to deteriorate (33%) than improve (23%).

Consumers also remain markedly more cautious about their personal financial situation than the condition of the wider economy.

The index results are consistent with retail figures for November published by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) yesterday.

The CSO data show retail sales rose 0.2% in November, reflecting a modest rise in sales volume, but declining value of retail sales, which fell by the same degree.

On an annual basis, however, sales volumes were up 4.7% on the same period in 2013 and 2.2% in terms of the value of goods sold. The sectors with the largest month-on-month volume growth were electrical goods (+2.6%) and clothing, footwear and textiles (+2.2%).

Investec Ireland chief economist Philip O’Sullivan said the 13 successive months of growth on an annual basis in terms of value and volume represented a clear illustration of the turnaround in the economy.


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