Retail boost for hardware and paints

By Eamon Quinn

Sales of paints and hardware helped retail sales extend a winning streak even as bar owners posted a drop in sales, official figures show.

CSO figures show that core retail sales, which exclude sales of cars, rose 1.5% in terms of volume of sales in May, and were 4.7% up from levels a year earlier.

However, the increase in terms of value was more muted, with core sales posting a 1.4% increase in the month and a 3.5% rise from May 2017.

The figures will boost hopes for the Government that its Vat receipts will grow later this year even though exchequer returns for May published earlier this month showed that Vat tax revenues had fallen short of target.

File photo.

The CSO said that by volume, sales of furniture and lighting products fell 4.7% in May from April and bar sales were down by 2.9% in the same period.

“The big picture is that Irish consumer spending is set for another solid increase in Q2, driven by positive developments in the jobs market and household earnings,” Davy economists said, adding the biggest winners were the retailers that had suffered most during the recession.

Alan McQuaid, chief economist at Merrion Capital said that falling unemployment and rising spending will boost core retail sales by up to 5% this year.

Elsewhere, the hot weather helped British retail sales growth surge during the first half of this month, adding to signs that UK consumers are shrugging off a lacklustre start to 2018, a survey by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) showed.

The CBI distributive trades survey’s retail sales balance jumped to a nine-month high in June.

UK retailers’ expected sales balance for July was steady and the volume of orders placed with suppliers rose at its fastest rate since November.

“Higher-than-average temperatures seem to have had a positive impact on shoppers,” said CBI economist Anna Leach.

The CBI said the rise in sales volumes was broad-based, with online sales, durable goods and department stores doing particularly well, though clothing stores and furniture shops reported a fall in sales.

British retail sales volumes recorded their biggest increase in more than a year last month, according to official data, after unusually warm weather and royal wedding celebrations boosted spending at supermarkets and other stores.

However, underlying conditions for the sector remained challenging, Ms Leach said, due to slow wage growth and the disruptive effect of online shopping.

Additional reporting Reuters

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