Slight drop in consumer confidence post-Brexit

Very little has actually changed says Danske Bank chief economist Angela McGowan
Very little has actually changed says Danske Bank chief economist Angela McGowan

Consumer confidence has fallen slightly in Northern Ireland following the EU referendum, according to a Danske Bank survey.

The main impact on households has been limited to exchange and interest rates, chief economist Angela McGowan said.

She added: “That means it is really only consumers who have holidayed abroad this summer that will have noticed the exchange rate difference, while the interest rate change from the Bank of England is very small and will take time to feed through.”

Ms McGowan emphasised that the scale of the decline in consumer confidence was not alarming.

“Very little has actually changed for consumers in Northern Ireland as Brexit has not happened yet,” she said.

The economist expressed surprise at a rise in the proportion of people who believed their financial situation had deteriorated year on year, given that inflation is currently lower than at this time last year and the labour market has improved in the first half of 2016.

“However, for those who are out of work things appear to be getting more difficult since last year. A full 36 per cent of unemployed respondents to the survey believed they are worse off relative to last year, compared with only 17 per cent of those in full-time work.”

Spending expectations have marginally improved post-referendum.

Ms McGowan said: “It appears the retail sector may get a little boost from the 50 to 64-year-old population in Northern Ireland.

“Perhaps this generation are about to retire or have just retired.

“They could be focusing on the fact that their pension annuities and their savings are being eroded with the low interest rate environment and perhaps they are thinking about spending their money instead.”