Brexit concerns hit Irish business and consumer sentiment

Three in 10 businesses expect to increase investment spending this year

The consumer sub-indicator was up 1.5 compared with February but 15.8 lower compared with the same month a year earlier.

The consumer sub-indicator was up 1.5 compared with February but 15.8 lower compared with the same month a year earlier.

 

Business sentiment tumbled this month on the back of renewed concern over a disorderly Brexit with households also remaining jittery about the outlook for the economy.

The latest Bank of Ireland Economic Pulse was down 1.4 to 89.4 in March, and was 7.7 lower than the same month last year.

“It has been a tumultuous few weeks and with the political drama in Westminster dominating the headlines and events coming down to the wire, it is no surprise that Brexit worries come through strongly in this month’s survey results,” said Bank of Ireland chief economist Loretta O’Sullivan.

The business pulse was down 2.1 compared with last month and 5.7 compared with March 2018, while the consumer sub-indicator was up 1.5 compared with February but 15.8 lower compared with the same month a year earlier.

The research found that three in 10 businesses expect to increase their investment spending this year compared with last year, with replacing and maintaining plant and equipment the main area of focus.

Uncertainty remains a drag, however, and with clarity on the Brexit front still lacking, 58 per cent of Irish companies impacted by the UK’s decision to leave the EU indicated that they have pressed the pause button on their investment plans for this year.