IRISH CONSUMER CONFIDENCE fell sharply for the second consecutive month in April as concerns about living costs intensified, according to a new survey.
A study by KBC Bank Ireland found that the weakest items in the April survey were those focused on finances and household spending, suggesting growing tensions in making ends meet, according to experts at the bank.
The consumer confidence index fell from 67.0 in March to 57.7 in April. The index is now a significant distance below its long-term average of 86.6, “indicating a very nervous Irish consumer at the moment,” the statement read.
The 9.3 point drop in the sentiment index is very similar to the 10.0 point drop seen between February and March.
Declines in the index in recent months represent unusually large moves for the survey and signal a marked shift in Irish consumer thinking in recent times.
The index also found that Irish consumers were increasingly concerned about the broader outlook.. Seven in ten consumers expect the Irish economy to weaken within twelve months, while almost half expect unemployment to be higher.
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In contrast to March, the weakening in expectations for the labor market was slightly larger than for the general economic outlook.
The most pronounced weakening in the April sentiment survey was in those items focused on the purchasing power and spending plans of consumers themselves, the KBC statement said.
“In light of the pronounced upward pressure on energy costs, both actual and announced, as well as sharply rising concerns about food prices, it is not surprising that there was a marked decline in both the trend in household finances over the past year and the outlook for the next twelve months,” reads the survey.