Consumer Skills
06th November 2014

70 per cent of consumers not yet feeling the green shoots of recovery says Consumer Council

The Consumer Council has today revealed that despite positive signs emerging in the wider economy, these are not filtering through to consumers, with 70 per cent not yet feeling the green shoots of economic recovery.

The findings of the Consumer Council’s first ‘Consumer Outlook’ research provide an insight into consumer confidence, spending priorities and areas of concern. The report provides the basis for tracking consumer confidence going forward.

Speaking about the findings, Aodhan O’Donnell, interim chief executive of the Consumer Council said “Overall our research shows a mixed picture. There are areas where consumer confidence has improved and the pressures on household budgets have decreased.  54 per cent of respondents said they were keeping up well with financial commitments, up 7per cent from last year. However, that leaves 46 per cent who struggle from time to time and who fall behind with bills and credit commitments.

“Given the fragile nature of the recovery and the pressures families have faced since 2008, it’s unsurprising that confidence has been slow to return. For many families hearing things are getting better and feeling it their pockets appear to be two different things.

“For example our research found that optimism remains flat, with 47 per cent of consumers reporting that over the last two years things have got no better or no worse for them and expect this to remain the case for the next few years.

“In terms of consumer concerns, it was unsurprising to learn that the cost of energy remains the top concern (40 per cent), closely followed by the cost of paying their rent or mortgage (23 per cent).

“The third biggest concern for consumers related to unexpected costs, for example, having to repair or replace a 'big ticket' household item (23 per cent). This suggests that many families lack the financial resilience to cope with any unforeseen financial shocks.  In fact 43 per cent of households reported having run out of money at least once in the last two years, making it difficult to deal with unexpected expenses.

“This is the first set of results in a series of surveys we will be undertaking to track consumer optimism about the local economy.  There are some positive signs with only 29 per cent saying they are worried about making ends meet compared to 52 per cent in 2010.  This is encouraging, as confident and optimistic consumers are essential to any sustained economic recovery.

“However, the overriding message from consumers right now seems to be that they are yet to see any tangible benefits of an improving economy in terms of the money in their own pockets.

A summary report of the research findings has been published on the  Consumer Council website