Consumers are more optimistic about the outlook for the economy than was the case a year ago, according to the latest Reflecting Ireland survey from PTSB.
Less than half of respondents – 47% – believe the economy will get worse over the coming year. That compares to 63% a year ago, and is down slightly on the last survey taken in late 2023.
Meanwhile 48% expect the economy to improve, up from 32% a year ago.
The proportion of people expecting a recession has seen a similar decline, with 46% of respondents predicting the economy will contract in the coming year; compared to 67% last year.
The percentage of people who say they feel worse off than a year ago is also down, but it still remains high at 54%, with that figure rising to 63% among those aged 45-54.
People in this age category are also more pessimistic about their finances for the year ahead, and less confident about their ability to manage their money.
As a result they are the most likely to plan cut-backs in the coming year.
Overall, though, there was an increase in the percentage of people planning to make cuts to their expenditure – both on the discretionary and essential items.
More than half of respondents plan to cut their grocery spend, while 60% hope to cut their energy usage.
Nearly 70% plan to spend less on clothing, while 62% say they will dine out less often.
Meanwhile half of respondents to the survey said they would take fewer holidays and weekend breaks during the coming year.
Leontia Fannin, PTSB Head of Corporate Affairs and Communications, said the findings show a welcome improvement in general public sentiment towards the economy.
But she added that it is clear that the so-called “Squeezed Middle” 45-54 age group is bucking the positive trend somewhat.
“It’s also clear that negative sentiment remains at high levels despite the more favourable pattern. This in turn appears to be driving a willingness to cut back on spending – both on essentials and non-essentials – as people struggle to get to grips with higher living costs,” she added.