Consumer confidence in visiting physical stores, engaging in person-to-person services and attending in-person events has increased, according to a new report by Deloitte Ireland.
The latest consumer tracker shows that despite an increase in confidence, Irish consumers are the second-most anxious in Europe.
Deloitte's tracker is a monthly survey which tracks Irish consumers’ attitudes towards personal wellbeing, financial concerns, travel and hospitality, transport and retail.
The most recent data was gathered between 3 February and 3 March, as the country remained under full Level 5 restrictions.
Daniel Murray, Partner and Head of Consumer at Deloitte Ireland, said the latest findings show that consumer confidence is hesitantly rising.
"As Ireland’s vaccine rollout continues, consumers are naturally anticipating returning to the workplace and partaking in activities such as shopping in-store, engaging in in-person services and attending in-person events.
"Throughout the last year, however, we have observed just how sensitive consumer confidence is to shocks and setbacks.
"We are likely to see further outbreaks of cases before a significant majority of the population has been vaccinated; this will test consumers’ resilience and make the recovery of consumer confidence a constant uphill battle," he said.
Concerns and spending plans
The survey shows that Irish consumers' concern for their own physical wellbeing has increased by 2% since the previous wave of research, conducted four weeks prior.
However, there were slight decreases recorded in consumers’ concern for the health of their families (down 1%), concern around making upcoming payments (down 3%) and concern around making large purchases (down 1%).
Concern around job loss was down by 2%, with concern around returning to the workplace down by 6%.
Those feeling safe to visit a physical store was up by 7%, while confidence in engaging in person-to-person services, such as hairdressing, was up by 9%.
Confidence in attending in-person events also increased by 4%.
A decrease of 5% was recorded in spending intent over the next four weeks on both household goods and utilities, when compared with the previous four weeks.
There was also a 4% decrease in spending intent on internet/mobile services.
There was a general increase in consumers’ intent to spend on non-essential items (up 5%).
Increases were recorded in intent to spend on alcohol (up 2%) and restaurants / takeaways (up 7%).
However, the research shows there was a 5% decrease recorded in intent to spend on clothing and footwear, and a slight decrease in those considering spending on more locally-sourced items (down 2%).
Travel, hospitality and tourism
A strong increase was recorded in consumers’ intent to spend on travel (up 7% on the last wave), as well as an increase in consumer confidence in air travel (up 3%).
Confidence in staying in hotels has also increased by 7%.
In general, the study shows there has been an increase in those planning to travel for leisure over the next three months: to hotels (up 5%); private accommodation (up 3%) and on international flights (up 3%).
Covid-19 and vaccinations
Participants in the survey were asked when they expected to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19.2% reported that they are already fully vaccinated.
5% expected to be fully vaccinated within one month; 16% expected to be fully vaccinated within three months; 25% expected to be fully vaccinated within six months; 14% expected to be fully vaccinated within nine months; 15% expected it would take more than nine months for them to be fully vaccinated; 13% were unsure; and 8% said that they would choose not to be vaccinated.