Belfast Telegraph

Republic of Ireland's consumers upbeat as household finance fears ease

By Charlie Weston

Consumers in the Republic have started the year in an upbeat mood.

The consumer sentiment index for January hit its highest level since May 2007, in response to Christmas sales and an improving jobs outlook. Economists said that fears about household finances are easing.

The KBC Bank/ESRI Consumer Sentiment Index rose to 84.6 in January from 79.8 in December, taking the index to its highest level since May 2007.

KBC Bank economist Austin Hughes said it was not the case that consumers feel their economic conditions were back to normal.

"We would argue the trend in sentiment data through the past year is consistent with a sense Irish consumers are gradually recovering from the extreme difficulties of recent years," he said.

"Painful legacies of the crisis mean that this is likely to be a lengthy and 'choppy' process rather than a smooth pick-up in sentiment."

But he said that consumers are gradually recovering from the painful economic hits of the past five years.

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