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Irish Economy

Consumer confidence stays near 17-month low

Consumers are slightly more confident this month than last, but still worryingly low ahead of an austere budget.

Updated, 16.13

CONSUMER CONFIDENCE stayed close to its 18-month low in November, according to new data.

The latest monthly issue of the Consumer Sentiment Index saw confidence rise from 48.1 to 48.4 in November – a moderate but almost negligible gain from October’s figure, which was the lowest it had been since May 2009.

By comparison, the same figure this time last year was 53.6. Figures below 50 are generally considered to be a sign of recessionary mood among consumers.

Austin Hughes of KBC Ireland, which compiles the index along with the Economic and Social Research Institute, said the figures showed that confidence had at least stabilised, commenting that “even if Irish consumers remain very gloomy, confidence is not completely in freefall.”

In that aspect, the result was “encouraging as well as surprising”, though the figures for the coming two months would be a broader indicator of whether consumer confidence had truly galvanised.

The fact that the confidence had held steady, he said, could either be a statistical levelling-off given the sharp drops of previous months, or down to the fact that consumers now had a broad idea of what to expect from next month’s budget.

The gauge of how consumers view their own current situation slipped slightly from 76.7 to 76.6, while the measure of households’ expectations was also down.