Online outlets cashed in, supermarkets did well in the good weather, stores selling electronics and TVs did less well, while jewellery and lingerie had a slack early summer, according to a sector-by-sector breakdown of how retailers have fared in recent months.
The survey by Grant Thornton for business group Retail Excellence, and which covers 4,500 retailers in the three months to the end of June, shows that retail sales across the industry were up by an average of 1.2% from the same period in 2018 — but there were significant winners and losers in the mix.
The survey comes at a significant time as Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe and his officials mull possible specific budget tax changes — such as health supplements — and other tax measures that may boost or cut consumer spending in certain shops.
Then there is also the prospect for a hard Brexit scare at Halloween, which could frighten consumers from spending in the shops later in the year.
But so far, based on the evidence of the exchequer returns, there is no early sign of any significant slowdown in retail spending.
Vat revenues in a non-Vat payment month last month fell short of target, but at €7.44bn were also largely on target for the first half of the year, and were up almost 5% from a year earlier.
The survey suggests that a wide range of retailers are tapping the rising spending power of households but it also shows that online stores, or the online outlets of brick-and-mortar shops, were the out-and-out winners — putting on a huge 16% gain in sales from a year earlier.
Among the traditional outlets, garden centres were the next big winners, beating the industry average by a wide margin with a 4.8% increase in sales in the year. Menswear and health stores fared well too, with year-on-year sales increases of 4.4% and 4%, respectively, and outlets selling hot beverages sold 3.4% more, according to the survey.
Sales of small home appliances put on 2.5% sales spurt in the same period.
Lingerie and jewellery fared badly, however, with sales down by 6% and 4%, and footwear sales were also down sharply in the like-for-like annual comparisons, with a fall of almost 3.9%.
Sales of consumer electronics, or brown goods, which include audio systems, flat TVs, radios, headphones, and docking speakers, fell 2.2% from the year-earlier period
Discounting meant “healthy” increases in volume nonetheless took in less money, with consumer electronic sales in June, in particular, hit from a year earlier when the 2018 World Cup boosted sales of high-end TVs, the survey found.
Sales of digital cameras slid 17% in the period, according to the survey.
And it was a mixed performance across the retail industry in the second quarter, said David Fitzsimons, group chief executive at Retail Excellence.
“Trading was boosted over the period due to a very robust performance in grocery, helped in turn by a sustained period of clement weather. Some sectors and especially consumer electronics were up against a hard like for like target recorded in 2018 when the World Cup was hosted," he said.
“A number of discretionary sectors traded down over the period including jewellery and lingerie. Home-related categories traded like for like up, helped by a resurgence in house building activity.
Overall growth rates in the Irish retail industry are declining, principally due to Brexit and eroding consumer sentiment. The outlook for the coming months is of significant concern,” Mr Fitzsimons said.