Belfast Telegraph

Confidence grows by 16% as economic recovery takes hold

By Clare Weir

Consumer confidence in Northern Ireland has increased by 16% in the last year, with spending on footwear and clothing jumping by 20%.

The Deloitte Consumer Tracker has also shown that net confidence in spending disposable income has risen by 30% in the same period.

The figures follow findings by the Office for National Statistics which indicates that the United Kingdom has finally emerged from the worst economic downturn in living memory after growth of 0.8% GDP during the second quarter of 2014.

David Crawford, partner at Deloitte, said that the boost in consumer confidence appears to be translating into a rise in discretionary spending.

"With people feeling more confident about their finances, many are admitting to spending more on non-essentials which will hopefully give the Northern Ireland economy the boost it needs," he said.

"The UK economy is back to pre-crisis levels and has gone from being the world's growth laggard to a growth leader.

"Not only is UK growth likely to outpace the other major industrialised nations this year, it is also likely to outpace some emerging economies.

"Crucially, growth is broadening out and looking more sustainable, with corporate hiring and capital expenditure playing a bigger role. This recovery has legs."

Glyn Roberts, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association, said that he has seen an uplift on Northern Ireland's high streets since Christmas.

"I think it is true to say that consumer confidence has improved but we have some way to go," he said.

"There is certainly more confidence among retailers and our membership and while some town centres and high streets are doing better than others, we see an improving picture."

In April a survey from Danske Bank said that consumer confidence in Northern Ireland had shot to the highest level in six years.

Confidence levels were highest in parts of Co Antrim with men marginally more optimistic than women and single people and young people from 16-34 most confident of all in many areas.

The survey found that the majority of respondents (60%) believed their personal finances would stay the same over the next 12 months but that one in five were hopeful of an improvement during the same period.

Danske Bank also said the number of households believing their finances would deteriorate in the next year had fallen back to 18%.

Belfast Telegraph