Consumer confidence rises for the first time since March 2008
CONFIDENCE among consumers rose for the first time in 21 months in what is being seen as a signal that many believe the worst may be over for the economy.
The Standard Life financial confidence index rose for the first time in nearly two years in the wake of the Budget in December.
Despite the fact that it was one of the toughest budgets in years, many consumers seem to agree with Finance Minister Brian Lenihan's comments that the economy was nearing rock bottom and was set to improve some time soon.
Measured out of a score of 100, the quarterly index had hit a high of 66.7 in March 2008. It had been falling continually from then for a year and a half.
It hit a low of 52.6 last September, but in December it rose to 54.6.
Head of marketing at Standard Life, Brendan Barr, said: "This is the first increase in nearly two years and hopefully increased confidence signals a positive impact for the real economy.
"Our latest survey was taken during the second half of December, after one of the toughest budgets in years, so this is even more encouraging news."
Both men and women experienced a similar increase in confidence over the last quarter, but men continue to remain more confident than women.
During the last quarter of 2009, younger adults experienced the largest increase in financial confidence, rising a hefty 5.8pc to 54.2pc. Adults aged over 65 experienced a slight decrease in financial confidence over the quarter, but this older age group remains the most financially secure demographic group with a score of 63.6pc. Pensioners escaped cuts in the Budget.
On a regional basis, Mr Barr said that those living in the capital remain the most financially secure, scoring 58.4pc, whilst those in Munster are currently the least financially secure with a score of 52.5pc.
Compared with a year ago, most groups have a similar level of financial confidence -- with the largest increases recorded by those living in Dublin, and those aged 18-24.
The groups who experienced the largest decreases in financial confidence over the last year were those aged 45-54 and those in the rest of Leinster.
The results are based on an independent online survey conducted by Research Plus Ltd on behalf of Standard Life Ireland.
Some 1,000 adults aged 18 and over in the Republic were surveyed between December 18 and 30, 2009.