Brexit will push almost half of Northern Ireland consumers to curb their spending
More than two in five people here say they plan to reduce their spending or postpone big ticket purchases directly because of the UK's planned exit from the EU.
According to new research from PwC NI, the survey, which measures consumer sentiment in the UK, found that people in Northern Ireland, along with people aged between 55-64 and those on benefits, are the least optimistic about their financial situation.
It follows the Which? First Consumer Insight Report, which showed that Northern Ireland is the most pessimistic part of the UK when it comes to the economy.
PwC's findings also said 23% of Northern Ireland respondents they hadn't changed their spending behaviour in the last 12 months but Brexit will impact on how they spend or save over the next year, more than double the figure of any other region.
And for the first time in 11 years, since the research began, clothing has emerged as the number one area for reduced spending for those aged under 45. For the over-45s, big ticket items continue to be hardest hit by cutbacks, and eating out also fell into the top three list for spending less, with consumers preferring to eat in, with food delivery and meal kits.
Martin Cowie, partner at PwC NI, said: "Unpredictability and sustainability are the two biggest disruptors impacting on consumer confidence in the current climate.
"The six-month Brexit delay has done little to bolster consumer confidence in Northern Ireland, and what we're seeing now is people here catching up with the way consumers in other parts of the UK changed their financial behaviours in the last year. This year we're now the most likely to adapt how and where we spend and save our money."
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He added: "And it's interesting to see that for the first time ever in our survey, clothing has emerged as the number one area for reducing spending for those aged under 45. Though the fast fashion sector has been a stand-out success in recent years, tightening belts as well as an increased focus on sustainability is impacting on consumer's shopping habits. This forecast will further impact on the confidence of the high street, as well as online retailers who are also facing pressures from calls to pay a special additional tax."
Holidays, home furniture spending, eating out and technology are most likely to be areas where consumers choose to save.