Cautious consumers 'seeking out sale bargains'

Irish consumers are hunting for more sale bargains as they become increasingly cautious about their personal finances, according to a new report.

This bargain hunting is part of the "new normal" for consumers as they opt for "careful rather than conspicuous" consumption, it has been claimed.

According to the KBC Bank Ireland/ESRI consumer sentiment index for July 2017 there has been a "modest" drop in the number of people reporting stronger household finances in the past year.

The barometer also found a slight increase in the numbers expecting weaker household finances in the coming year.

"Consumers are still cautious about their personal finances but a little more likely to spend.

"We think this is part of the 'new normal' for Irish consumers where there may be a willingness to hunt for bargains in the sales and to spend on travel but continuing pressure on household finances means the onus is very much on careful rather than conspicuous consumption," said Austin Hughes, of KBC Bank Ireland.

Mr Hughes added that the Irish economy has performed much better in the first half of 2017 than had been feared.

Elsewhere, expectations have been "notably downgraded for both the US and UK of late while the Euro area has yet to deliver widely to consumers from its recent improvement," he said.

The index found that average Irish household may have fallen somewhat behind the pace of recovery in the Irish economy as a whole.

It also found that the share of national economic income going to households has declined progressively in recent years to the point where it now stands well below historic norms.

Daniel Foley, ESRI, said following a relatively upbeat view of personal financial situations last month, consumers now feel less positive about both their current and future financial situations.

He added: "Despite the perception of worse financial situations, consumers still have a positive view of the current buying climate as evidenced by their increased willingness to make large household purchases."


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