Morning business news - August 14Thursday 14 August 2014 10.55
More than four in ten consumers switched at least one product or service provider in the last year, according to a survey published by the National Consumer Agency.
Fergal O'Leary, director of consumer contacts and insights at the National Consumer Agency, said that while the results represented a slight improvement, we are still a long way off what we could be achieving in value terms. "25% of respondents tell us that they are out there all the time looking for alternatives. Just over a third stick to the same companies, but are looking at alternatives. And the remainder stick to the same companies," he said. "This is disappointing, given the savings they could make," he added.
The research found that consumers were generally good at switching house and car insurance, and utilities like gas and electricity, as the perceived hassle was not great. However, current account switching and moving waste providers was less pronounced in the most recent study. "We've seen some major banks close here and that has had an impact in the last while, but in effect we're seeing forced switching there. Consumers don't see a huge benefit from switching banks versus the amount of time they think they need to spend and the perceived hassle."
The research shows that under 35s tend to be less less loyal than their older counterparts when it comes to service provision. "What is important is the way that they access information. Perhaps they are more susceptible to advertising online but they are not happy to stay with the same provider. They will move," Fergal O'Leary said. "That's good for the economy and it drives competition and innovation," he added. Fergal O'Leary said the agency's aim was to grow the cohort of regular switchers, which he said would drive bigger savings due to better competition.
MORNING BRIEFS - Euro zone GDP numbers for the second quarter are due out later this morning. The German economy contracted by 0.2% in GDP terms between April and the end of June. The French economy recorded zero growth in that period. The French Finance Minister has downgraded the country's outlook for the year to 0.5% growth from 1% previously.
*** Ashoka Modi - the former IMF official who oversaw our bailout - is warning Portugal that it risks making the same mistakes we made by bailing out one of its biggest banks. Lisbon has just come out of its own state bailout but surprised everyone when it announced that it was going to pump €5 billion of taxpayer funds into Banco Esperito Santo. Just like we did with the bank guarantee, the banks "junior" bondholders and shareholders will suffer losses, but owners of "senior" bonds ranking higher up the list will be spared. Speaking to Reuters, Mr Modi said it was a mistake not to impose losses on senior bondholders, like they do in the States so why is Europe different? He cited the example of Anglo and said it should have been closed at the start of the Irish bailout process which he said would have meant less fiscal austerity here in the long run.
***Aer Lingus Regional had another good month in July - in fact its best month since it started operations just over four years ago. The airline - which is operated by Stobart Air, formally Aer Arann - carried nearly 142,000 passengers in July, a 22% increase on the same month last year. The airline recently announced a new route from Cork to Newcastle and introduced a number of new aircraft on its services.