More than a third (36%) of Irish people plan to buy a big-ticket item before the end of the year, with 75% planning to do so by the end of 2017, according to a survey by Vision-Net.

The latest Recovery Index from the business and credit risk website shows a holiday is the most commonly planned major purchase, followed by used cars and home improvements.

However, nearly half of respondents (46%) cited access to finance as the biggest obstacle to them making such expensive purchases, particularly among the 35-54 year olds.

Many others are also reluctant to take on additional debt, with almost half planning to rely solely on savings for their major purchases and a third expecting to use a mixture of savings and a loan.

Just 15% of people are using a loan as their exclusive source of finance.

Meanwhile, women are more likely than men to use savings (50% vs 45%), whereas men are more likely to take out a loan (19% vs 12%).

The Vision-Net survey also found that two thirds of respondents had savings on deposit, with men significantly more likely to save than women.

On average men tend to have up to €10,000 more in savings on deposit than women (€21,654 vs €11,704).

The study also found over three quarters (82%) of those aged over 55 have savings.

That figure is 16% more than the next biggest saving demographic, with 66% of those between the ages of 35-44 having money in a deposit account.

Commenting on the findings of the Recovery Index, Managing Director of Vision-net Christine Cullen said: "Today’s research suggests that consumer confidence is slowly returning to the Irish economy. Following a period of financial restraint after the financial crash, Irish people now feel secure enough to begin making significant purchases again, like holidays and cars.

"Having said this, there appears to be a deep reluctance among consumers to take on debt, with only 15% willing to use a loan as the sole means of financing their purchases.

"This suggests consumers are still very cautious about their long-term financial prospects. This is likely explained by a combination of factors, including more restrained earning potential, existing debt and tax burdens and uncertainty in the broader macro-economic climate, like Brexit."

The study was conducted by Amarach Research among 1,000 consumers.