Friday 23 August 2019

Two-thirds worried about Brexit impact - but we're still spending

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Colm Kelpie

Almost two thirds of people are worried about the future of the country in the wake of the UK vote to pull out of the EU, a survey reveals.

But despite the concern, consumer confidence is holding steady, with just a third believing the economy will deteriorate as a result.

The survey, by the GroupM media group and seen by the Irish Independent, is one of the first major gauges of Irish people's attitudes towards the so-called Brexit vote.

The survey also found that 43pc of Irish people remain confused about what Brexit means for Ireland. While 33pc feel the state of the economy will get worse, about the same amount - 32pc - believe it will improve. About 35pc say it will stay the same.

About 15pc think their employment prospects will get worse, while 24pc feel their personal finances will deteriorate.

But two months on from the poll, the survey shows that while people are concerned about a potential adverse impact, they're continuing to spend, with the majority not putting off planned purchases.

"While uncertainty in the mind of the Irish consumer is evident, Brexit has not shattered consumer confidence and willingness to spend on consumer goods," said Bill Kinlay, chief executive of GroupM Ireland. "Two months after Brexit and consumers are taking a cautious approach to their finances - budgeting more, paying off debts, but have no drastic plan to curb future purchasing."

The survey's conclusions back up the findings from the latest Consumer Market Monitor from the UCD Smurfit School and the Marketing Institute of Ireland. This showed that consumer spending has been unaffected by the Brexit debate, although that measured sentiment in the three months to the end of June, with the referendum at the tail end of that month.


The research was carried out by iReach insights, with fieldwork carried out nationwide between July 29 and August 7 among a representative sample of around 1,000 people.

Respondents stated that over the coming months, 44pc would budget carefully, with 24pc saying they plan to pay off debts rather than spend.

Around 27pc said they were now more inclined to seek out special offers than before the vote, while around a quarter were doing more shopping with discount retailers.

Almost a quarter said they are now eating out less. But overall, 76pc said their spending has not changed since the vote on June 23. "Optimism remains with more people, with 20pc believing their employment prospects will improve, compared to 15pc who think they will get worse," Mr Kinlay added.

"It seems Irish consumers are feeling the uncertainty but holding steady in terms of spending and outlook."

IN the UK, a survey last week showed that British consumer spending picked up last month. The study by Visa UK, based on Visa credit and debit card data, showed consumer spending rose 1.6pc in July compared with a year ago, up from June's 0.9pc increase and the biggest rise in three months.

Official data, however, has been scarce since the referendum but most business and consumer surveys have pointed to a sharp slowdown, prompting the Bank of England to cut rates for the first time since 2009 and to restart quantitative easing.

Meanwhile, sterling held close to its weakest level in three years versus the euro yesterday, but climbed against the dollar after UK inflation accelerated in July more than economists forecast. The inflation figures mark the first hard economic numbers in the wake of the Brexit vote.

Irish Independent

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