The arrival of coronavirus vaccines helped boost consumer confidence here though people remain uncertain about the future, according to a report today.
The Danske Bank consumer confidence index said people remain on high alert about the impact of the pandemic on their finances.
At 124, the index for the fourth quarter of 2020 was up on the quarter before - but lagged behind the 129 recorded at the end of 2019. Danske Bank said that at the end of last year, people were feeling a bit more confident about their finances yet more insecure about job security.
And inevitably, the pandemic was weighing most on people's minds. However, 44% of people surveyed said the news of the vaccines had boosted their confidence.
For 13% of those surveyed, the restrictions put in place to limit the spread of coronavirus were a positive. And another 8% said government measures aimed at protecting jobs and incomes, such as the furlough scheme, had buoyed their mood.
The survey was carried out in December before Brexit negotiations resulted in a trade and cooperation agreement.
Therefore 17% of people said that the status of the talks was affecting how they were feeling about their money. And another 12% said the UK Government's longer-term Brexit objectives was the factor that most negatively impacted upon them.
Danske Bank chief economist Conor Lambe said: "While the reintroduction of more stringent coronavirus restrictions in the latter part of 2020 stalled the economic recovery that had begun during the third quarter, the positive news about coronavirus vaccines provided a boost to consumer confidence at the end of the year.
"With the current restrictions requiring many businesses to remain closed, the first quarter of 2021 is proving to be another challenging one for the NI economy. But assuming that the restrictions can be gradually eased throughout the year as coronavirus case numbers hopefully come down and the vaccine programme is rolled out further, the local economy is expected to return to positive rates of growth from the second quarter of 2021."