Cash-strapped consumers still spending less – CSO
CASH-strapped consumers are spending less on everyday items such as fuel, mobile phones, clothing and books as the economic downturn maintains its vice-like grip on the economy.
Spending on goods and services fell by 1.5pc last year compared with 2010, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) says, as prices continue to soar.
The cost of servicing mortgages, electricity, gas and other fuel bills rose by 9.7pc last year, with energy spiking by 11.9pc. Petrol rose by 12.7pc as the price of a barrel of oil rocketed, resulting a 9pc drop in sales.
Food staples also increased in price including beef, lamb, poultry and fish, although the price of vegetables is falling.
It means that people are cutting back on non-essential spending where possible.
There was some 5.5 million mobile phone subscribers last year, but they’re spending less - average bills are now at €30 per month compared with €34.
And households are expected to meet with extra costs despite salaries falling.
The ‘Statistical Yearbook of Ireland 2012’ published today says that average weekly earnings were €697.14, down 0.7pc, with the sharpest drops in the construction sector (down 13.4pc) and arts, entertainment and recreation services (12.7pc).
Average annual earning for 2011 were €35,924, a fall of €193 on 2010.
The recession means that workers are less likely to take industrial action with the number of days lost to strikes plummeting.
In 2009, some 329,593 days were lost. This fell to just 3,695 last year.
The CSO findings would also suggest that people are also putting off the big decisions with the number of marriages at the lowest level since 2001 with just 19,879 registered, while the number of births fell to 74,650, down 326. Almost one in four (23pc) were to non-national mothers.
There were fewer divorces (2,819, down 294).
But there is some positive news. A night out at the cinema has remained largely static at €8.93 - while a haircut costs marginally less.
Export rose by 4pc, resulting in a trade surplus of almost €44.7bn - the highest on record.
Some people are also investing in new cars - some 87,000 were sold last year (up from just 54,000 in 2009), with sales of luxury marques including BMW, Audi, Alfa Romeo, Land Rover and Lexus on the rise, although Mercedes-Benz sales have dropped.