NI consumer confidence ‘highest in a decade’ claims Danske Bank

Danske Bank has claimed that “consumer confidence” in Northern Ireland is now at its highest level for over a decade, despite the pandemic and Irish Sea border.

Thursday, 29th July 2021, 12:00 am
Updated Thursday, 29th July 2021, 10:17 am

The major high street bank uses something called a “consumer confidence index” score.

It is based on a survey of people (understood to number around 1,000), where questions include things like how their household financial position will change over the next 12 months.

The bank then comes up with a score based on the answers; basically, the higher the score, the more confident the purchasing public are.

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The bank's consumer score chart - the most recent score is not on here, but it would be the highest on the whole chart

Its figures show that, for the second quarter of 2021, the confidence score had risen to 149 – up from 137 in the previous quarter.

And this most recent score stands some 27 points higher than the same period in 2020.

In fact, a long-term look at the bank’s confidence scores show that 149 is the highest score since the credit crunch hit, all the way back in 2008.

This long-term pattern shows that the confidence score was low during 2008, went on to plunge even deeper in 2012 (all the way down to the mid-90s), before re-bounding to present levels.

The bank links the current soaring score to the vaccine roll-out programme.

A press release from the bank said that, when asked what had the largest positive impact on their confidence levels, “48% of people highlighted the coronavirus vaccine programme”.

Asked what had the largest negative impact on their outlook, the bank said that “40% of respondents said the post-Brexit trading arrangements in Northern Ireland made them feel less confident.”

This comes amidst political unrest linked to red tape which the Northern Ireland Protocol has imposed on firms moving goods to and from NI.

The bank was asked how consumer confidence could possibly be so high when Covid (and the effects of Brexit) had damaged the economy so badly.

The bank responded: “The consumer confidence index is based on people’s opinions around four areas – how their current finances compare with 12 months ago, how their finances are expected to change over the next 12 months, job security over the next 12 months and expected spending on expensive items over the next 12 months.

“The relativity to one year ago and looking forward one year is quite important.

“Given the rollout of the vaccine programme and the easing of restrictions, a larger net number of people are now more confident about their current financial positions compared to last year, and think that their finances are more likely to improve and they will spend more as the vaccine hopefully provides a route out of the pandemic, than in recent times where the outlook for one year ahead was even more uncertain.

“The index reading, which is derived from the proportions of people who are more optimistic about the above four factors relative to the proportion who are more pessimistic about them, is at a very high level.

“However, this reflects the more positive outlook people have about now and the year ahead, after what has been a very difficult and uncertain recent period of time throughout the pandemic.”

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