DUBLIN (Reuters) - Irish consumer sentiment slipped last month, extending a modest decline from September's 18-month high that the authors of the monthly survey said suggested shoppers will be cautiously optimistic this Christmas.
Ireland's economy is set to be the best performer in the European Union for the fourth consecutive year, but morale has been uncertain over the past 18 months as the recovery filters into people's pockets and some living costs rise.
The KBC Bank Ireland/ESRI Consumer Sentiment Index fell to 103.6 in November from 104.8 in October, remaining broadly where it has all year and still shy of a 15-year high of 108.6 in January 2016, before neighbouring Britain voted to leave the EU.
The survey's authors said they did not interpret the fall as evidence of any marked change in the mood of Irish consumers, who still view their prospects positively but remain sensitive to any potential threats to Ireland's economic recovery.
Despite that caution, core retail sales still rose 6 percent in the year to October and KBC Ireland Chief Economist Austin Hughes said that momentum should continue into next year, driven by Ireland's solid population and jobs growth.
"While this may constrain the pace of increase in consumer spending over the Christmas period, strong gains in employment and faster income growth than inflation imply a healthy increase on last year's outturn appears likely," Hughes said.
(Reporting by Padraic Halpin, editing by Larry Kiking)