Consumer confidence continues to rise but businesses appear slightly more pessimistic, according to the latest Economic Pulse from Bank of Ireland for August.

Sentiment among companies softened in the month, according to the study, with thinner order books likely to lead to muted activity and hiring.

Companies appear to be concerned by the impact of Brexit and the weaker pound, though some also expect that to translate to lower import prices in the near future.

However, consumers are in much more positive mood, with three in five now expect the general economic condition to improve over the next year.

More people also had an improved view on their own finances, with 40% of people considering it a good time to make a big-ticket purchase.

Bank of Ireland Group Chief Economist Dr Loretta O’Sullivan said the "August findings highlight an emerging divergence between households and firms, with a rebound in consumer confidence evident in recent months but business sentiment more subdued.

"While households look to be taking comfort from the improving domestic economy and ongoing job gains, firms remain alert to the clouds on the horizon, with signs of softer activity in the UK and the renewed weakness of the pound of late a reminder of these."

On housing, the Bank of Ireland research shows two in five people think house prices will rise by more than 5% over the next 12 months.

This has almost doubled from January 2016 (when just 22% were expecting increases of this magnitude), while the share of survey respondents expecting prices to stay more or less the same has almost halved, as the market continues to be characterised by a mismatch between supply and demand.

Meanwhile, a separate report from Savills Ireland today indicates that almost all retail sectors are enjoying strong sales growth.

But for most this is coming at the expense of discounted prices.

However, bars are an exception, with both volume sales and average prices rising.