Numbers shopping around fall
The number of Irish consumers who are prepared to shop around for better value across a range of products and services has fallen dramatically in the last 12 months according to the National Consumer Agency (NCA).
Its latest survey found that across 18 expenditure categories the number of consumers who have switched at least one product or service provider in the past 12 months has fallen from 43 per cent to 32 per cent. It also found that the majority of consumers in most areas who had not switched product or service provider in the past 12 months had not checked to see if there was a better deal available to them.
When it came to banking and financial products, 67 per cent of consumers who had not switched provider did not check to see if there was a better current account available while 62 per cent said they had never checked to see if there was a better deal available for their TV service. The same number of people had not looked to see if they could get gas for less while 58 per cent of people said they had not checked to see if they could get electricity cheaper.
The chief executive of the agency Ann Fitzgerald said the research shows that many consumers are not actively checking to see if there are better deals available to them.
She urged consumers to make sure they were getting the best deal “even if they are happy with their current provider and to regularly review their main expenses.”
She said that in many of the sectors the deals which businesses offer change quite frequently and consumers should constantly be on the lookout for better value.
The research found that 83 per cent of consumers who had switched at least one product or service provider within the past year found the process easy.
Consumers who switched also reported that they had saved money as a result. For car insurance, 96 per cent who switched saved on average €125 annually while an identical number of switchers said they saved money on their home insurance with the average amount being put at €105 per year.
Of those who have switched at least one product or service provider within the past year 59 per cent said they were now receiving a better service, while only 1 per cent reported receiving a worse service.
The most popular areas for switching last year were car insurance, broadband and internet providers and fixed land line provider.
The research also examined repeat switching for the same product or service over the past five years. Of those who switched at least once in the five year timeframe the highest level of repeat switching was found in the grocery market with 60 per cent saying they had switched where they did their main grocery shop and 57 per cent saying their top-up grocery shopping habits had changed. .
“The research shows that there is a clear reason for consumers to regularly review the options on offer and switch if they find a better alternative. Consumers who did that in the last year have told us that they saved money, found the process to be easy and are receiving at least an equivalent service. Consumers can be a powerful driver of competition and innovation in markets but in order for this to happen we must be open to switching and not simply content to stay with our existing providers,” Ms Fitzgerald said.