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Consumers

Consumer sentiment brightened (slightly) in March

Consumer sentiment has risen for the third month in a row and is now at its highest level since last October according to the KBC Bank/ESRI

CONSUMER SENTIMENT HAS risen for the third month in a row, a new report has found.

The KBC Bank Ireland/ESRI Consumer Sentiment index showed a marginal increase last month, rising to 60.6 in March from 57 in February. The consumer sentiment tracker is now at its highest level since last October.

The tracker, which has been running since 1996, has a long term average of 87.3, boosted by high levels of spending and optimism during the Celtic Tiger years.

The lowest figure was recorded in July 2008 when it hit 39.6.

Consumers remain cautious but a combination of less pessimism about employment prospects and the outlook for the economy have driven the improvement, said Cormac O’Sullivan of the ESRI.

While their outlook for the future has improved, consumers have become more worried about their present conditions since the start of the year.

He added:

There has been a marked decrease in the volatility of the index over recent months, which is likely a reflection of the greater stability in Europe following the successful restructuring of Greek debt.

His comments were echoed by Austin Hughes of KBC Bank who said there was a ‘disconnect’ between consumers’ assessment of the broader Irish economic outlook and their own personal circumstances.

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