Still no spring in the step of shoppers...
Irish consumer confidence levels have dropped again, after a strong start to the year.
The KBC Bank/ESRI Consumer Sentiment Index for February fell 2.4 points to 100.7.
The report's authors, however, say that consumers' outlook is still cautiously optimistic, with the modest drop reflecting international trends.
The biggest drop in confidence last month was in relation to jobs, with the big losses at Hewlett Packard having an impact on sentiment.
Since reaching a 15 year high in the February 2016 reading, Irish consumer sentiment has struggled to retain forward momentum and has edged slightly lower through the past 12 months.
From the perspective of the typical consumer, things have stopped getting worse but they are not getting dramatically better. Consumers sense some improvement in the broader economy but are also aware of notable risks to economic prospects.
Most have not seen a clear improvement in their own financial circumstances but many expect this to materialise in 2017.
Austin Hughes, chief economist with KBC Bank Ireland, said:
“The February sentiment reading hints at a ‘one step forward one step back’ recovery for the typical Irish consumer...
"We're seeing sentiment indices down in most countries for February. So there's a little bit more caution in the view of consumers but by and large there's still the sense that 2017 should be better for consumers.
"Consumers are hearing a lot about high-profile industrial disputes, particularly in the public sector. And of course the survey period also saw the announcement of major job losses at Hewlett Packard. So there are elements there that keep consumers a little bit concerned about the outlook for jobs."