Bank of Ireland have released its latest Economic Pulse survey which is conducted by Ipsos MRBI on behalf of Bank of Ireland with 1,000 households and approximately 2,000 businesses on a range of topics including the economy, their financial situation, spending plans, house price expectations and business activity.
At 76.4 in December 2019, the Consumer Pulse was more or less flat on the month but down 12.9 on a year ago. Households’ assessment of the general economic situation and their personal finances was little changed this month as they waited to see where the Brexit process goes next.
The buying and savings climate also held steady, with three in ten considering it a good time to purchase big ticket items such as furniture and electrical goods, while 74% indicated that they are likely to put some money aside over the coming year.
The Economic Pulse revealed that the majority of firms don’t expect to change their selling prices in the period ahead, even though two in five reported a rise in non-labour input costs. On the consumer front, three in four households said they are likely to put money aside over the coming year and there was greater confidence across all regions for future house price gains.
The Business Pulse stood at 84.6 in December 2019, up 2.8 on last month but down 3.5 on a year ago. While the headline index rose for a third consecutive month, the picture was mixed across the sectors with the Services and Construction Pulses posting firmer readings, whereas the Industry Pulse eased back as did the Retail Pulse (the latter comes after a big jump in November).
The December survey also finds that the bulk of firms do not expect to change their selling prices in the next 3 months, despite the fact that almost two in five reported a rise in non-labour input costs over the past 3 months. Along with other factors, Brexit developments will continue to be important for business investment, which has been impacted by uncertainty.
The Housing Pulse rose for a second month running in December 2019 to 84.6. This was 3.7 higher than the previous reading but 16.2 lower than the same time last year. The improvement in sentiment this month was broad based across the regions - households in Dublin, the Rest of Leinster, Munster and Connacht/Ulster all upped their expectations for future house price gains. The data also show that around one in seven thinks prices will increase by more than 5% in the coming year, with the figure for the capital a touch higher at one in five.
Commenting on Bank of Ireland’s December Economic Pulse research, Group Chief Economist for Bank of Ireland, Dr Loretta O’Sullivan said, "While sentiment rose in December, the Economic Pulse ended the year below where it started it. 2019 has been a year of intense Brexit drama and political events across the Irish Sea were to the fore again this month, with the UK in the midst of a general election campaign as the December survey was being carried out. Business sentiment rose for the third month in a row, while consumer sentiment moved sideways, as households remain cautious."