Ireland is an increasingly divided society between those who can live comfortably and those who are struggling, according to a new survey of consumers.
The Red C tracking poll Consumer Mood Monitor, which looks at how comfortable consumers feel financially, found that one-in-three respondents claimed to be struggling, with a similar percentage of people saying they were living comfortably.
The report also points out that the main factor is life stage, rather than social class, with older families more likely to struggle under the burden of higher debt and expenses.
According to the poll, consumers in general are still cautious when it comes to spending, mainly because they do not believe the economic recovery has had any direct impact on them and their personal finances.
The poll also reflects concerns about the state of the global economy, with just 20% of respondents expecting any increase in their spending in the next six months.
More over, 115 of those questioned said they felt “hard done by”, while 13% of consumers say they are “desperate” and struggling with seemingly no light at the end of the tunnel.
The latest tracker shows 32% of people claiming that they are struggling to make ends meet — up 4% compared with the figure in June.
Groups classified as “mature families” and “empty nesters” are more likely to have felt the personal benefits of recovery, while those aged between 25 to 34, those with children, and those in higher social classes are more likely to feel the benefits of economic recovery. However, there is some increase in consumer mood, with 72% stating they believe a recovery is under way in Ireland — up 3% from the figure in June — while 55% believe the economy will improve further in the next six months.
According to the poll: “More than half believe the Irish economy will fare better in the next six months — this is the highest since we started this tracking back in July 2009.
“Just one-in-seven believe the economy will fare worse in the coming six months.”
According to the poll, the biggest improvement in outlook is evident among families, and lowest among those in the 18 to 24-year age group. People living in Ulster and Connaught are less positive about the future of the economy but the positive mood in Dublin and the rest of Leinster is now also reflected among consumers in Munster.
There is an improved outlook regarding expectations in the job market, but the same cannot be said in the housing market, where high prices in Dublin, in particular, alongside new mortgage rules “have dampened expectations”.
While the majority of respondents expect improvements in the housing markets, that number actually fell compared to the equivalent figure in the June poll.
About 40% of Dubliners say they believe the housing market will worsen in the next six months.
As for the world economy, expectations among Irish consumers are at their lowest level since early 2013.
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