NI consumers shrug off Brexit with most confidence in UK

Deloitte partner Peter Allen

Deloitte partner Peter Allen

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Northern Ireland consumers have shrugged off post-referendum pessimism and shown that they are more confident than other regions of the UK in Q3 2016, according to the latest Consumer Tracker from business advisory firm Deloitte.

The quarterly survey of 3,000 UK consumers, which was carried out between 16 and 18 of September, has seen overall confidence as measured by its index rise by three percentage points from the previous quarter. This was the largest quarterly increase in confidence in 18 months, since Q4 2014.

In Northern Ireland, the index showed local confidence had increased by 12% since the second quarter of the year – moving from a negative balance of -11 per cent to a positive balance of 1 per cent.

Five out of the six measures which make up the confidence index have risen since the second quarter, with job security, job opportunities and career progression seeing particularly strong gains in consumer optimism. Confidence in job security across the UK rose by 6% compared to the previous quarter, after falling for the last three consecutive quarters.

Significantly, the province saw a marked swing in confidence about job security – with the index moving from a negative balance of -21% in Q2 to a positive balance of 4% in Q3.

“In contrast to the business community, where chief financial officers are on the defensive following the EU Referendum, UK consumers seem to have put Brexit fears to one side and this has been reflected in the results recorded in Northern Ireland,” said Peter Allen, partner at Deloitte NI.

“Consumers are benefiting from favourable conditions, including low inflation, low unemployment and relatively high disposable incomes. It is good to see that consumers in Northern Ireland are more upbeat than in the rest of the UK.

“Job security has also seen a significant increase in the wake of the referendum as a ‘business as usual’ approach returned to the market.”

The Q3 Consumer Tracker also showed that UK wide consumer spending is continuing to shift from everyday essential items to more discretionary, non-essential categories.