Chemist retail sales up, pubs down

Chemists, electrical goods retailers and hardware outlets are the big winners from a continued rise in consumer spending levels over the past three months, while pubs and bars largely lost out.

CSO figures show that retail sales volumes grew by 5.1%, year-on-year, in the three months to the end of October, with the value of sales growing 4.5%. On a quarterly basis, sales were relatively flat.

On an annual basis, pharmaceutical product sales rose 6%, in volume terms, and by 2.1% in value terms. 

Hardware product sales were up over 10%, volume-wise, while there was a 21.2% surge in the sale of electrical items. Food sales rose 7%.

However, the three-month period saw the level of consumer spending in bars and pubs fall by 1.5%, year-on-year, and by 0.2% in value terms.

Bigger department stores had a good period, with sales volumes up 4.8% year-on-year, and sales values up by 2.2% on an annual basis.

Juxtaposing that, the Small Firms Association (SFA) has urged shoppers to spend locally with small businesses in the run-up to Christmas. 

A €20 spend per adult with small businesses would inject more than €73m into the SME economy and would boost local jobs, said SFA director Sven Spollen-Behrens.

Cantor Fitzgerald economist Alan McQuaid said personal spending levels are likely to show a further increase, for this year overall, as disposable incomes rise on a continued drop in the unemployment rate.

“Following these latest figures we now think headline sales will post an increase of between 3.5% and 4% this year, with a rise of 4% to 4.5% projected for core sales,” he said.

“What happens on the currency and Brexit fronts will be important factors in determining overall consumer spending patterns in the Republic over the next 12 to 18 months, but we are still expecting to see healthy personal consumption in the Irish economy over the remainder of this year at least and into 2019 as well, as things currently stand,” said Mr McQuaid.

In October, retail sales volumes rose by 5.8% on the previous October, but were unmoved on a monthly basis.

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