Retail spending up but car sales falling

Retail sales were up 4.5% in October compared to the same month last year, but car sales continued to fall, dropping by almost 3%, according to CSO figures.

There was a decrease of 0.3% in retail sales — excluding motor sales — in October when compared with September. They were up, however, by 6% year-on-year.

Car sales are now down 2.8% compared with the same period last year, reflecting the trend of motorists importing cheaper cars from the UK.

Pharmaceuticals, medical, and cosmetic sales saw a more than 7% rise in October, while spending on fuel and clothing rose slightly.

Book and newspaper sales dropped 2.5%, while there was also less spend on electricals, and items such as toys.

Analysts at Davy said the growth in jobs will drive consumer spending.

“The data suggests that consumer spending continues to grow strongly and should be a key contributor to GDP growth. Overall, the data show something of a pause in growth last month, but the outlook remains positive with employment and wages continuing to grow strongly at 2.5%,” Davy said.

The CSO data also showed retail volumes were higher across most sectors in 2017.

Annual growth was strongest in pharmaceuticals and cosmetics at more than 18%, while furniture and lighting grew almost 15%.

Along with motors sales, the only sectors that declined on the year were food and tobacco which decreased slightly.

Business group Isme said the figures showed the importance of buying locally, especially with the impact of Brexit continuing to be felt.

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