CONSUMER confidence has reached levels not seen since 2007, with more people feeling they and the country will be better off in the coming year.
The results of the latest Consumer Confidence Monitor show 22% of people surveyed this month believe the country will be better off, compared with just 9% in March and 8% last November.
There is also a growing sense of positivity when it comes to personal finances. In July, more than half of those surveyed said they expected their income in the next year to be higher or the same — a rise from the last figure in March.
The Behaviour and Attitudes (B&A) Consumer Confidence Tracker, based on a sample of 1,008 adults, also found:
n11% expected their income to be higher in the coming year, with 46% expecting their take-home pay to remain the same.
* A slight increase in the percentage of people who expect to buy more goods and services in the coming year, up to 6% from 4% in March.
* 58% feel the economy will be better or no worse off in the year ahead — up from 37% in March.
The rise in positivity is mainly being driven by people living in Dublin. One-third of those who live in the capital said they believe the economy will have improved in a year’s time, compared with 19% of those who live in the rest of Leinster, 13% of those who live in Munster and 21% of people living in Connacht/Ulster. Those in younger age groups are also more optimistic: 34% of those aged between 16 and 24 years believed the economy will be better off in a year’s time, alongside 20% of 25 to 34 year olds and 22% of 35 to 49 year olds.
However, the latest quarterly review by Retail Excellence Ireland (REI) warns retail closures seem inevitable following successive sales declines in April, May and June.
The review described the sales declines of 2.02% in April, 4.94% in May and 5.47% in June as deeply worrying.
It accepted that predictions issued earlier this year of a possible early return to sales growth were optimistic and premature.
One of the directors of B&A, Luke Reaper, said while the consumer confidence survey “does not say we are out of the woods by any stretch of the imagination”, there was a growing sense that consumer negativity had bottomed out. “It is the first time we have seen any degree of light, which is encouraging,” he said.
On the figures indicating a slower growth in consumer confidence when it comes to personal finances and spending power, Mr Reaper said: “The encouraging thing is at least there is a good chunk [of people] that say they will spend the same amount in the next year as now.”
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