Consumer confidence at six-year high

Mood among Irish consumers boosted by stronger trends in jobs and property prices

Shoppers at Blanchardstown Shopping Centre in Dublin. The mood among Irish consumers reached a six-year high this month, boosted by positive news on the jobs and property fronts. Photo: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Shoppers at Blanchardstown Shopping Centre in Dublin. The mood among Irish consumers reached a six-year high this month, boosted by positive news on the jobs and property fronts. Photo: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Mon, Sep 30, 2013, 13:06

Consumer confidence soared to a six-year high this month propelled by positive news in the jobs and property markets.

The KBC Bank Ireland/ESRI consumer sentiment index rose to 73.1 in September from 66.8 in August reaching its highest level since 2007.

The 3-month moving average continued its increase from 68.5 to 69.4, the highest reading since November 2007.

The index of current economic conditions also improved to 86.0 in September, from 83.3 in August, the fifth consecutive month of increase.

The index also found positive views on the economic outlook exceeded negative views for the first time since February 2006.

“September’s survey reveals growing confidence amongst consumers, with improvements compared to September last year and August this year,” Kevin Timoney of the ESRI said.

KBC economist Austin Hughes said the size of the jump in consumer sentiment in September was surprising but broadly consistent with a gradually improving trend in confidence of late.

However, he warned the improvement reflected an element of “catch-up” in sentiment as opposed to any dramatic change in the economic environment.

“There is no sense in these data that consumers are expecting a return to the boom.”

“Our best guess is that recent positive news on jobs and property prices have encouraged a view that Irish economic prospects are now beginning to improve.”

While the results suggest the Irish economy may now be improving, they also highlight how weak the economy has been and how gloomy consumers had become through the past five or six years, he said.

“A key question now is how well a still tentative recovery in sentiment can withstand another tough Budget.”