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Consumer mood a little brighter in April

Tuesday, May 13 12:19:09

The mood of Ireland's hard pressed consumers lifted only slightly in April 'though they remain deeply conservative about spending.

The latest KBC Ireland/ESRI Consumer Sentiment Index increased to 87.2 in April, from 83.1 in March and 58.9 in April last year. The 3-month moving average advanced to 85.3 in April from 84.4 in January.

The improvement was driven by a better perception of the current economic environment and of the outlook for the next year.

Austin Hughes of KBC Bank Ireland said that, after the small pull-back in March, the recovery in the sentiment index in April suggests Irish consumer confidence remains on the clearly rising trend that has been in place for the past year or so.

"This owes much to a growing sense that the outlook for the Irish economy is improving. Last month's survey also suggests many households remain under financial pressure. So, while the survey may hint at some pick-up in consumer spending, there is little to suggest a dramatic increase is in prospect," he said.

"The improvement in April puts the Irish consumer sentiment index at its strongest level since January 2007. Fairly modest monthly gains also pushed comparable Euro area and UK confidence gauges to their best readings since 2007. These results point towards a broadly based improvement in economic conditions but we must be careful in interpreting how good current conditions might be. The fact that multi –year highs were reached in April probably says more about how poor conditions have been for the average consumer in Ireland and elsewhere in recent years and less about the scale of the recovery now underway. It is good news that consumers feel the world is getting better but these data are not saying all their problems have gone away.”