Irish consumer sentiment climbed slightly to hit its highest in April since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, a survey showed on Friday, but recipients expressed caution about the long-term economic outlook.
The KBC Bank consumer sentiment index rose for a third month in a row to 77.9 in April from 77.1 in March, still short of the long-term series average of 86.8 but well above last April's pandemic low of 42.6.
Ireland has gone from having one of the highest COVID-19 infection rates in Europe in January to one of the lowest today.
But the government is opting for a relatively slow reopening of its economy from lockdown with, non-essential retail likely to remain closed until May and hospitality until June.
"Consumer sentiment was boosted by solid data and strong domestic and international forecasts for the Irish economy, with encouraging news also emanating from key trading partners such as the U.S. and UK," KBC Ireland chief economist Austin Hughes said.
But he said consumers remained cautious about the future, with just over one-in-four expecting a stronger Irish economy in the next 12 months, while just under one-in-two expect further weakness.
"The details of the April survey emphasise a still markedly cautious outlook," Hughes said.
More consumers still see their personal circumstances weakening in the coming year than anticipate gains, he added.
The survey responses also provided some evidence that consumers may not be planning to splurge when the COVID-19 pandemic ends, Hughes said.
"While we see a forceful and front-loaded improvement in consumer spending, its intensity may fall short of some expectations," he said.