THE INCREASED cost of living is the number one concern amongst households in the Mid West, according to new figures from Limerick Chamber.
The Chamber’s consumer sentiment survey for summer 2023 showed that 34 per cent of respondents believed the increased cost of living was the top issue facing the Irish economy, followed by housing at 28 per cent.
83 per cent of people who were surveyed said they expected their financial situation to stay the same or worsen over the coming six months, with just 17 per cent saying they expected their situation to improve.
There was a large amount of uncertainty measured among consumers, with 67 per cent of respondents thinking now is the wrong time to make a big purchase such as houses, cars, and white goods or electronics.
67 per cent of people also planned to cut discretionary spending over the winter, which, the Chamber says, could have a knock-on effect for local economies.
Limerick Chamber’s consumer sentiment survey aims to take the economic pulse of the whole Mid West region with a particular focus on the behaviour of individuals and households.
The survey showed that 87 per cent of people anticipated price hikes, with many concerned about energy costs across the winter.
Chief Economist and Director of Policy at Limerick Chamber, Seán Golden, said that the results of the survey showed that a drop in local spending is to be expected.
“There is uncertainty out there amongst consumers, unfortunately this will impact non-essential spending and thus retail and other business. Many households do not expect their financial situation to improve in the next six months, which again will likely feed into local spending.”
“Despite this, many people still plan to holiday and in particular holiday abroad. Worryingly, less than half of our respondents have received a wage increase over the last six months. Of those that did increase their wages, just 40 per cent beat inflation, meaning their real income fell combining with the cost of living increase,” Mr Golden said.
Eoghan Carr, Economic and Policy Analyst at Limerick Chamber, said: “Respondents outline that cost of living, supply of affordable housing, and climate change are the biggest issues facing the Irish economy.”
“When comparing these responses to last year’s survey, a notable change is that climate change has replaced the conflict in Ukraine,” he concluded.