The £8-pint: too much froth in the economy?

Last month saw the opening of the latest landmark hotel in Belfast, a significant milestone for our hospitality and tourism sectors. But the fact that the cost of a pint in its penthouse bar has attracted as much attention as its rooms and restaurants, perhaps gives us some insight into the current performance of the Northern Ireland economy.

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July PMI – Fastest rise in output since January

Today sees the release of July data from the Ulster Bank Northern Ireland PMI®. The latest report – produced for Ulster Bank by IHS Markit – pointed to marked increases in both output and new orders amid an unusually long spell of warm weather. That said, employment increased only slightly and business confidence eased. The rate of input cost inflation remained sharp, leading output prices to rise at a pace only slightly weaker than June’s ten-year high.

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Consumer credit helps drive growth, but cards now marked

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The public finances, ‘the deficit’, and the extent to which Northern Ireland is dependent on public spending have been much explored and discussed topics over the past 11 years since the Credit Crunch. We have also had access to a wide range of data on the state of the business sector, from the range of surveys by business bodies and others right down to individual filings by businesses at Companies House. But despite consumer spending accounting for two-thirds of GVA (gross value added – i.e. Northern Ireland’s total income), there has perhaps been relatively less discussion on the finances of the Northern Ireland consumer, in part due to an absence of relevant insight on the topic.

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