DUBLIN, March 31 Irish consumer sentiment
improved in March as concerns about household finances eased,
but many remained sceptical the booming economy would
significantly improve their living standards, a survey showed on
The KBC Bank Ireland/ESRI Consumer Sentiment Index climbed
to 101.9 in March from 100.7 in February.
The index has fluctuated sharply in recent months, jumping
from a two-year low of 96.2 in December to a seven-month high
of 103.1 in January amid uncertainty about the impact of
Britain's exit from the European Union.
Ireland's economy has posted the fastest growth in Europe
for the past three years and unemployment has fallen steadily.
But consumers remain concerned about rising housing and
insurance costs and stagnant wages, the survey's authors said.
The number of consumers reporting a worsening of their
personal finances has fallen sharply but the proportion of who
feel their households' financial circumstances have improved
increased relatively little, the survey showed.
The Irish consumer "is very uncertain about the ability of
an improving Irish economy to deliver a significant increase in
their living standard," KBC's chief economist Austin Hughes
"The recovery is largely a story of an easing in pain rather
than consumers signalling a notable increase in prosperity."
Meanwhile, many are struggling to gauge the impact Britain's
exit from the European Union is likely to have on their personal
"In the absence of major domestic developments in the next
couple of months, we think the major influence on Irish consumer
sentiment could be the tone of initial Brexit negotiations,"
(Reporting by Conor Humphries Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)