Irish consumers ‘worried’ about personal finances in light of Covid-19

In the context of Covid-19 outbreak, an international study asked consumers to identify their biggest concerns around their financial situation. 

More than four in ten Irish consumers have stated they are concerned about their personal finances as the impact of Covid-19 continues to be felt across the world.  

An online study, conducted by fintech N26, of 10,106 consumers across 13 countries (Europe and US), which included 1,002 Irish consumers, found that Irish consumers (42 per cent) are now the second most concerned by their financial situation in Europe, only behind Greece (56pc). The countries with the lowest levels of financial anxiety at present are Germany (31pc) and Italy (30pc).

The study reported that as many as 73pc of Irish consumers feel sad, worried or under pressure about their finances. This is in stark contrast to the 16pc who said they were happy, relieved or assured when describing their feelings about their current financial position.

Of those who took part in the survey, consumers in the 45-54 age bracket were the most concerned about finances at 51pc, versus 30pc of 18-24-year olds.

“Customers who were initially concerned about personal health issues, are becoming increasingly concerned about financial matters”

A separate Bank of Ireland survey with over 400 customers demonstrates how consumers are adapting to life during the Covid-19 public health emergency.

The survey found that 40 per cent (pc) of customers have stopped using cash, with 46pc of people tapping their contactless cards rather than entering a pin.

The top financial concerns were a reduction in salary (28pc), with almost one in four (23pc) concerned about their savings depleting and one in five concerned about being able to afford day to day living.

To help customers during this difficult period, Bank of Ireland has introduced a number of Covid-19 supports including mortgage and personal loan payment breaks for personal customers, waiving contactless fees for the duration of the crisis, fast-tracking payments to SMEs and priority services and phone lines for healthcare workers, over-65s and carers. Bank of Ireland has also donated €1 million in emergency funding to communities most affected by Covid-19.

“Nine in ten customers are telling us they would welcome a financial health check in the future”

Discussing the trends, Shane Quinlan, head of financial wellbeing at Bank of Ireland said; “This study across Europe and the US draws parallels with Bank of Ireland’s recent survey of how the Irish public are adapting to life during the Covid-19 emergency.

“Customers who were initially concerned about personal health issues, are becoming increasingly concerned about financial matters, which is understandable in the current environment. Covid-19 has had significant impact on economic activity in Ireland in the last two months and many Irish people have suffered a negative income shock as a result.

Shane Quinlan, head of financial wellbeing, Bank of Ireland. Picture: Conor McCabe

“What is most revealing about both survey results is how quickly our customers have adapted to the new reality, and are prioritising their financial wellbeing by examining their expenditure and taking the opportunity where possible to build savings. Also nine in ten customers are telling us they would welcome a financial health check in the future,” he added.

Concerning personal finances in the current climate, 55pc of Irish people currently have long-term saving plans. Of those, 39pc say they are saving against the backdrop of financial uncertainty, while 25pc are more hopeful of a return to normality, putting their savings towards a post Covid-19 holiday.

Finally, the survey revealed that the current lockdown is providing more opportunity for consumers to save. On average, since the implementations of self-isolation restrictions, Irish consumers report saving €164 per month, comparatively less than in other European markets (Belgium: €212, Netherlands: €178, Italy: €186, Spain: €182 and France: €172).

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By Stephen Larkin

Published: 18 May, 2020