CONSUMER confidence fell to its lowest level in a year last month as worries about the impact of the budget played on the minds of householders.
The index of consumer sentiment recorded its sharpest fall in December in its 17-year history of the index.
It crashed from 63.8 to 49.8, according to KBC Bank and the Economic and Social Research Institute, the compilers of the index.
KBC Bank economist Austin Hughes said the sharp fall showed how fragile consumer confidence was, but he insisted the plunge in the index overstates the deterioration in the mood of consumers.
He said the rapid decline in consumers' confidence was at odds with consumer sentiment in the rest of the eurozone.
Consumers in Ireland are "jumpy" because of a sixth harsh budget and uncertainty about their financial futures.
"There is little doubt that most Irish consumers felt that the Budget would make them worst off and this prompted an outsized fall in sentiment," Mr Hughes said.