NI least optimistic about economic prospects

NIRC director Aodh�n Connolly
NIRC director Aodh�n Connolly

People in Northern Ireland are the most pessimistic about the UK’s economic prospects - with energy, fuel and Brexit their main worries, according to the first Consumer Insight report for the province from Which?

The consumer champion’s in-depth analysis for 2018 unpicks the trends and financial outlook of the average consumer in Northern Ireland and brings together research gathered from speaking to more than a 1,000 people over the course of the year.

Two fifths (42%) believed the economy was in a poor state, and three in five (60%) thought it would worsen in the year ahead.

Across the UK as a whole, only half (49%) anticipated the economy would worsen.

Which? found fuel prices was the issue people in Northern Ireland were most concerned about - with three-quarters (74%) anxious about rising costs compared to two-thirds (68%) in the UK as a whole.

Seven in 10 (71%) were worried about Brexit and public spending cuts, compared to 61% and 66% respectively across the UK.

Energy bills and the cost of groceries were also among the most common worries for the province - around two-thirds were anxious about energy and 66 per cent about food prices.

Despite their pessimistic view of the economy, 71% were satisfied with their life overall, compared to 65% UK-wide, and just over half (51%) said their household finances were good, reflecting the UK figure of 49%.

Northern Ireland Retail Consortium director, Aodhán Connolly said: “This report is a welcome addition to the data on the Northern Ireland consumer and it backs up our own findings.

“NI households already have half of the discretionary income of GB households and pay more for things like fuel and car insurance which means we feel more vulnerable to price rises.

“That is why our members have been working hard every day to keep prices low across Northern Ireland and why our Brexit campaign “A Fair Deal for Consumers” has been calling on the UK government and the EU to protect our households from a disastrous no-deal. We hope that the findings of this report help to the minds of our politicians to put NI families first.”