Irish people were among the first in the world to recognise the scale of the cost-of-living crisis last year as painful memories of the 2008 financial crash prompted consumers here to quickly modify their spending habits, a global study published on Monday suggests.
The research details the toll consumer inflation is having on people in Ireland and across the world, with about a third of those who took part saying that they were struggling to make ends meet.
Along with the Greeks – who also endured significant hardship from 2008 – the Irish were fastest to react to the crisis, with 70 per cent of people in both countries reducing their expenses in recent months.
A further 19 per cent of Irish consumers said they were “actively planning” to reduce their spending as this year progresses, just behind Greece, where 21 per cent say they are planning on cutting back.
By contrast, only one in five people in Japan have reduced their spending in response to the cost-of-living crisis, with Koreans not far behind on 26 per cent. South Korea also has the highest proportion of people who do not plan to make any changes to their spending on 45 per cent.
The percentage of people in the UK who have cut back already is put at 55 per cent and 49 per cent in the US.
The research was carried out by the Worldwide Independent Network of Market Research (WIN), an umbrella group with a footprint in more than 60 countries; Red C Research is its representative in Ireland.
The spending reductions identified are seen across all demographics in Ireland, highlighting the broad impact of the crisis, with less than one in 10 telling researchers they had no plans to make any changes to their spending in the months ahead.
The global nature of the crisis is evident, with 36 per cent of those polled across dozens of countries saying they were struggling to make ends meet as a result of the dramatic spike in inflation, falling slightly to 30 per cent in Ireland.
People aged 35-44 are among the most affected because of the costs related to supporting a family. Differences were identified among socio-economic groups, with 54 per cent of those without a third-level education saying they were having difficulties paying bills, falling to 25 per cent among those who have completed higher education.
“The Irish resilience and experience with economic woes are clear to see, with the population reacting the most quickly globally to try and live within our means,” Richard Colwell, chief executive of Red C Research, said. “However, a significant divide clearly exists in Ireland between those who are struggling and those still living comfortably in the current crisis. Any future supports need to be focused on those most in need.”