Some retail sales increased last month but many retailers are experiencing negative trading conditions

Figures released today by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show there was an increase of 1.1% in the volume of retail sales in February 2017 when compared with January 2017 when motor trades are excluded and there was an increase of 5.9% in the annual figure.

The sectors with the largest monthly volume increases were:

  • Clothing, Footwear & Textiles (4.9%)
  • Non-Specialised Stores (4.5%)
  • Hardware, Paints & Glass (4.3%)
  • The sectors with the largest month on month volume decreases were

    Motor Trades (-5.8%)

    Fuel (-3.5%)

    Pharmaceuticals Medical & Cosmetic Articles (-2.8%)

    Overall, there was a decrease of 0.3% in the value of retail sales in February 2017 when compared with January 2017 and there was an annual decrease of 0.9% when compared with February 2016.

    If motor trades are excluded, there was an increase of 1.2% in the value of retail sales and an annual increase of 3.3%.

    The annualised increase in value in retail sales has been welcomed by Retail Excellence, the largest retail industry representative body, but they warn factors such as rising rents, online shopping and Brexit have resulted in negative trading conditions.

    "We welcome this figure and the upward trend but would warn against being too optimistic. We have been contacted by many members in recent days who are experiencing very negative trading conditions. Some retailers are reporting like for like declines of upwards of 30% against March 2016," Lorraine Higgins, of Retail Excellence

    "It is clear that consumer sentiment has been negatively impacted due to concerns about the impact of Brexit. The primary income in over 100,000 homes comes from a company which is dependant of export to the UK market (agri, food, drink).

    "We also believe that there has been a further acceleration in online shopping activity, most of which is fulfilled outside of Ireland. If this business was being done with Irish-based retailers it would generate up to €1.7bn more VAT for the exchequer, boosting annual VAT receipts by more than 13pc.

    "Retailing is tough at present with many experiencing a combination of legacy issues such as high rents. The real challenge will be the impact of the invocation of Article 50 when it is triggered this week."

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