Reflecting Ireland – An insight into consumer behavioural change in Ireland – Cost of Living
23 May 2022
Having endured a health crisis, people in Ireland are now facing one of a very different kind. Initially, it was hoped the rising cost of living was a short shock that would ease as post-pandemic life returned to normal. Now, with the war in Ukraine having a significant impact on food and energy prices, that temporary blip may become more prolonged.
In this edition of Reflecting Ireland, we take a deeper look at the cost of living and its impact on our day-to-day lives. Conducted in partnership with Kantar, our research shows concerns over the cost of living have exploded in the last three months. Indeed, not since the period 2009 – 2012 have we seen such high levels of pessimism about the future.
What are people doing to reduce the impact? In this report, we team up with Claire Cogan of BehaviourWise to better understand the behaviour we’re seeing. We find that people in Ireland are now budgeting more and changing their behaviour and spending patterns to better navigate this inflationary period.
Over four in five of us (81%) cite the cost of living as being the most pressing in Ireland today – far ahead of Housing (52%) and access to quality healthcare (45%). In January, just 62% felt this was the defining issue of our time.
There has been a sharp increase in negativity over the past three months– a majority of us now feel we are less well-off compared to this time last year – equating to a near nine year high. Just one in six (17%) are more upbeat.
Looking to the future, over two in five (43%) fear they will be less well-off over the next 12 months – this pessimism was last seen nine years ago in 2013.
An exception to the pessimism is younger people, with 47% of 18-24 year olds and 43% of 25-34 year olds saying they expect to be better off financially next year.
18% feel than any pay increase they may receive will not match the rate of inflation, while a sizeable minority (47%) do not expect to receive any pay increase at all.
A significant majority (61%) feel that they are just keeping their financial heads above water. Over half (53%) feel their finances control their lives. Less than one in four (22%) are comfortable that they are managing adequately.
Three in five believe the country in on the wrong track; over twice the proportion of those who feel we are going in the right direction (just 28%).
Over half (53%) worry about their ability to pay energy bills, and we are beginning to change our behaviour as a result. We are watching more closely how much energy we are using (83% agree), have cut back on our car journeys, and plan to cut back on food items bought (over three in five agree to both sentiments).
Over half of utility consumers are restless for change, and close to half of insurance and broadband customers intend to switch. There has historically been a lower rate of switching among financial service providers but this may now be on the rise.
The Reflecting Ireland research series was conducted in April 2022 among a nationally representative sample of 1,002 adults aged 18+ in the Republic of Ireland.
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