Belfast Telegraph

Firm has got it covered ‘as confidence returns’

Households research shows growing belief in future, says Danske

By Margaret Canning

Consumer confidence has |improved in Northern Ireland compared to this time last year, Danske Bank said today following research into households.

But worries over the future persist for some, particularly 50 to 64-year-olds, the report also said.

Danske’s chief economist Angela McGowan said the index for measuring confidence was at 110 by the end of the year — up from 98 one year earlier.

The survey, which asks households about their finances and expectations, identified only marginal improvements in some measures.

Confidence was highest in the greater Belfast area.

Ms McGowan said: “The latest confidence survey found that there was a significant fall in how consumers perceived their current financial position compared to 12 months ago.

“However, this decline was |offset by some marginal gains in other aspects of the survey, |including spending expectations and job security.”

More people were saying they felt worse off compared to a year earlier (up to 43% from 39%). Consumers in the 50 to 64 age bracket were the least confident, with just over half of the age group saying they felt worse off than they did one year earlier.

The economist said the position of households improved “only very marginally” last year.

“The Office for National Statistics has shown that in the first three quarters of last year, real |disposable household income only increased by approximately £60.

“However, this was the average increase and there are also households that have not experienced any increase in real income. Those households with savings for example, generally feel worse-off when interest rates are low.

“And the spending power of retirement pension pots has diminished in the past few years. It’s not surprising that this age group, which includes a significant proportion of retirees, is more downbeat about their current financial position relative to last year.”

Despite high youth unemployment, 16 to 24-year-olds were most optimistic about their finances in the future.

The numbers of people with fears about their job security were down, and nearly three-quarters of people said job security would be the same in 2013.

People’s expectations about their future spending also improved slightly, with a falling number reporting that they expected to trim their expenditure over the year to come.

Again, young people were the most buoyant, and one in four said they intended to spend more in the year ahead.

Ms McGowan added: “While the overall index shows only a marginal improvement in spending expectations during 2013, this aspect of the index is now sitting at the highest level since September 2010.”

Belfast Telegraph