Irish Economy
Irish Economy: Consumer sentiment in December 2013 at highest since June 2007
By Finfacts Team
Jan 15, 2014 - 1:16 PM

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Irish Economy: Consumer sentiment increased in December 2013 to 79.8, from 71.0 in November. This is the highest reading since June 2007 and the 3-month moving average rose to 75.7 from 73.4 in November.

The Consumer Sentiment Index comprises two sub-indices; an index of consumer expectation that focuses on how consumers view prospects over the next 12 months and an index of current economic conditions, focusing on consumers’ present situation.

The Index of Consumer Expectations is based on consumers’ perceptions of their future financial situation, their economic outlook for the country as a whole and employment expectations. This sub-index improved to 72.7 this month, from 64.8 in November.

The Index of Current Economic Conditions is based on how consumers feel about their current financial circumstance compared to 12 months ago, as well as their perception of the current buying environment for large household purchases. The Index of Current Economic Conditions increased to 90.3 from 80.2 in November.

The data was obtained from telephone interviews during the first two weeks of the month with around 800 completed questionnaires. The data were re-weighted in line with gender, age and level of educational attainment to ensure the data is fully representative of the national population of adults. Each index is calculated by computing the relative scores (the percent giving favourable replies minus the percent giving unfavourable replies (the balance), plus 100) for each question used in the different indices. Those who reply “Don’t Know”, “Remain the same” are excluded from the index calculations. Each relative score is rounded to the nearest whole number. The sum of the relative scores is then divided by the base period total for each index.

Commenting on the results Kevin Timoney, ESRI, said: “December’s strong performance is reflected across all categories. Forward-looking views on the economy over the coming 12 months improved to a seven-year peak. The index of consumer expectations increased from 64.8 in November to 72.7 this month.

“Household perceptions of their present financial situation were more upbeat in December. As a result, the index of current economic conditions improved to 90.3, from 80.2 in November.”

In addition, Austin Hughes, KBC Bank Ireland, noted: “The driving force behind the improvement in Irish consumer sentiment through 2013 was an easing in fears about the outlook for the Irish economy. This continued in December and was probably helped by a focus on a range of positive recent economic developments as Ireland exited the ‘bailout’ programme. There also seems to be some sense in the December survey that consumers feel the worst may be over in terms of the impact of austerity measures on their household finances.

“The December 2013 reading was the strongest in six and a half years. As such, it points towards a clear improvement in the mood of consumers after what has been a very painful period. The details show that a majority of consumers are now positive about the outlook for the Irish economy and the prospect for jobs. However, the number of consumers who think their personal finances will worsen in the coming year is more than two and a half times as great as the number that expects an improvement. This is likely to restrain any growth in consumer spending in the coming year.”

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