Consumer confidence 'on the rise' in the North
Consumer confidence in Northern Ireland rose to its highest level since the peak of the financial crisis, an economist has said.
Improvements in finances along with greater expectations for saving and spending are credited for the improvement since September 2008, Northern Bank official Angela McGowan added.
The bank published a Consumer Confidence Index for Northern Ireland.
"The broad theme coming from the latest research is positive. There are encouraging signs across all key indicators used to measure consumer confidence," Ms McGowan said.
She added low interest rates over the last year, lower mortgage payments for those households on tracker mortgages combined with overall lower prices in 2009, have led to a reduction in the proportion of people feeling financially worse off in December compared with one year ago.
Overall, consumers' assessment of their current financial position has improved over the quarter.
This is shown by a fall of five percentage points in the proportion of consumers who feel financially worse off now relative to one year ago, combined with a small rise in those currently feeling better off.
Ms McGowan said: "Spending expectations showed a marked improvement although 28% of consumers still plan to spend less. The survey also shows a determination amongst households to improve their finances with expectations of the amount that they will save rising overall.
"This reflects a similar international trend which shows a widespread desire by households to rebuild their savings. As household balance sheets improve there is an expectation that both saving and spending should return to more sustainable levels."