Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland consumers squeezed as disposable income lowers

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Media captionThe average household in Northern Ireland is surviving on £60 disposable income a week, according to a new report.

Northern Ireland households have suffered a further squeeze on their disposable incomes, according to an economic consultancy.

The Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) produces a monthly "income tracker" for the Asda supermarket chain.

It examines spending habits and discretionary incomes across the UK.

It concludes that discretionary incomes in Northern Ireland were 3.5% lower in September than the same month in 2012.

The report concludes that the average household has £60 a week available to spend after all tax and essential livings costs have been deducted.

Northern Ireland has shown signs of economic growth in recent months, although most people's incomes are not rising.

Some economists think that any recovery is unlikely to be sustained without rising real wages.

Footfall

Meanwhile, shopper numbers on Northern Ireland's high streets fell last month, according to the latest industry figures.

The retail footfall figures, produced for the NI Retail Consortium, suggest that shopper numbers were 3.1% lower than a year ago.

Its director Aodhán Connolly said: "The fact that shopper numbers fell further in September is a real cause for concern this close to Christmas.

"Although recent months have seen cautious optimism building for the general economic outlook, these figures, as well as a recent sales slowdown after strong growth over the summer, serve as a reminder that conditions remain challenging.

"Many of us may also have been keen to manage our budgets ahead of Christmas and therefore cut back on major shopping trips during the month."

Recent figures contained in the Ulster Bank Purchasing Managers Index suggest that the retail sector performed strongly over the summer.

There are no regularly published figures showing the value or volume of retail sales in Northern Ireland.

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