January 9, 2018 / 12:09 AM / a year ago

Irish consumers remain cautious in December - survey

DUBLIN, Jan 9 (Reuters) - Irish consumers remained cautious in December as they continued to see limited upside in their personal finances from the country’s long-running boom, a monthly survey showed.

Ireland is expected to have been the European Union’s best performing economy for the fourth consecutive year in 2017, but morale has been patchy over the past 18 months as the recovery filters into people’s pockets and some living costs rise.

The KBC Bank Ireland/ESRI Consumer Sentiment Index inched down to 103.2 in December — the average rate reported in 2017

from 103.6 in November.

The survey hit an 18-month high of 105.8 in September, but has failed to recover to the 15-year high of 108.6 posted in January 2016, before neighbouring Britain voted to leave the EU.

“While there is relief at widespread evidence of a strengthening Irish economy, it seems that many consumers still feel quite removed from the pick-up in personal finances that such buoyant economic conditions would traditionally deliver,” KBC Ireland Chief Economist Austin Hughes said.

Current spending of the typical Irish consumer is still about 5 percent below the level they experienced at the peak of the previous Celtic Tiger era in early 2008, he said.

Twenty-six percent of consumers said they saw their own financial circumstances improving in the next 12 months compared to 27 percent who felt their circumstances improved in the past 12 months, the survey found.

Reporting by Conor Humphries; Editing by Catherine Evans

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