permanent tsb’s Reflecting Ireland research suggests public mood towards the economy is improving

  • 22% of respondents expect to be better off in 12 months’ time.
  • Two thirds of those who don’t own a home believe it has become harder to do so in recent years
  • Post pandemic, half of respondents report they are socialising less but finding it harder to manage finances

There has been an increase in the number of people with a more positive view of the economy over recent months according to the latest edition of the Reflecting Ireland series by permanent tsb Bank.

Reflecting Ireland is a quarterly research series from permanent tsb which explores attitudes to the economy and key issues of public interest. The research was undertaken by Core Research in March 2023 amongst 1,000 adults.

While they survey continues to show public concern about the economy, the numbers expressing optimism have increased across a number of key areas. 

Relevant findings include:

  • There was a rise of 6% in the number of people who believe the economic situation will improve over the coming 12 months (17% in this report, up from 11% in November 2022). However, a greater number, 49% of respondents indicated that they felt the economic situation will deteriorate over that period (63% in November)
  • There was a rise of 4% in the number of people who believe that they are better off now than 12 months ago (15% in this report, up from 11% in November 2022). In contrast the percentage of people who believe they are now worse off than 12 months ago fell to 56% (down from 63% last November).
  • Looking ahead 22% of respondents said that they expect to be better off in 12 months’ time. That compares to 18% in the November survey.  The percentage which believes they will be worse off over the coming 12 months declined to 38% from 47%.
  • When asked their views on whether or not the country was on the right track currently, 60% said we are “off-course” while 28% said we were “on-the-right-track”. This compares to 62% and 25% respectively in the November survey.

Speaking about the findings, Leontia Fannin, Head of Corporate Affairs with permanent tsb said: “there is a subtle but significant shift in opinion from November which suggests that more people think the worst of the Cost-of-Living crisis is behind us.  It will be interesting to see whether that more optimistic mood continues or is paused in the coming months.”

The survey also explored the significant impact of the Covid Pandemic on how people in Ireland live their lives.

Key findings in this area include:

Housing

  • 40% of young adults (25 – 34) are looking for a property to buy or rent.
  • Over half of all respondents (52%) say home ownership has become more important to them in recent years, rising to 69% among 25-34 year olds, the age group most likely to be looking for a new home.
  • Amongst those looking to buy (16% of general public), 57% are first time buyers. 22% are trading up. 13% are trading down and just 4% want to buy a property in order to rent it out.
  • Of those who don’t own a home (47%), 8 out of 10 (81%) say it is personally important to them to do so in the future.
  • However, two thirds (66%) feel the prospect has become less achievable in recent years. For over half (55%) the main barrier is financial; this rises to 76% among 25–34-year-olds. Financial barriers include struggling to save a deposit (27%), not being able to find a suitable property within budget (19%) and worry about the financial risk (9%).
  • The research also confirms that there remains little appeal for long-term renting. 41% say they would “never” consider long-term rental.  Of those that would consider it, 13% say recent years have made them less likely than previously to consider it.  A higher proportion (20%) of those aged 25-34 agree with that statement.
  • Energy efficiency has become a more considered option in recent years, with 4 in 10 (39%) stating that they would be more likely to purchase an energy efficient home and 30% more likely to consider retrofitting.

Changing Lifestyles

  • 72% of respondents say that the way they spend their free time has changed since the pandemic. Half of us socialise less since the pandemic with costs (57%) and habit (46%) key factors.
  • Some positive lifestyle choices have become easier to make since the pandemic. 43% say it has become easier to exercise and 41% to cook from scratch.
  • Against that, implementing financial practices such as controlling utility bills (63%), saving money (61%) and managing finances (52%) have all become harder.

Working Lives

  • 36% of workers say they can work remotely (either full time or hybrid) while 62% say they work exclusively from their workplace. Flexitime is the most sought-after benefit for workers (identified by 54%).
  • 48% say they would like to be able to avail of a compressed work week (working the same number of hours but over fewer days) while only 18% say it is available to them.
  • A third (33%) feel working from home regularly could negatively impact on their chances of promotion.

Addressing the findings of the impact of the pandemic, Leontia Fannin, Head of Corporate Affairs with permanent tsb said; “the pandemic may have ended but its impact continues.  We can see from this research that people’s attitudes have changed significantly on key issues and lifestyle choices.”

Speaking on the survey results, Behavioural Scientist, Claire Cogan of BehaviourWise said; “The pandemic led many of us to re-evaluate our lives, and there was much discussion at the time about which behavioural changes would stick. It’s clear that many have made positive changes to their lifestyles including getting more exercise, cooking from scratch and managing work-life balance. However, half of us are socialising less than before, with cost and habit the main reasons given for this. It will be interesting to see if this pattern changes as we head towards the summer, a key period for the hospitality industry.”

Read the full Reflecting Ireland report here.

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