The first quarter of 2013 will be a key indicator of the health of the retail sector for the coming year, according to one of the industry’s main representative bodies.
The latest retailer business sentiment survey from the Ibec-affiliated Retail Ireland shows only 6% of retailers rate their business as being in good health, with 31% saying they are in poor shape, and 63% describing their business as average.
The figures show a serious improvement on the awful results of last year’s survey.
Then, 65% of retailers said their business was either in poor or very poor shape, while 0% of respondents described their companies as being in good health.
Retail Ireland director Stephen Lynam said yesterday: “These findings show a marked improvement from this time last year, when two-thirds of retailers considered their business to be poor and a similar number felt it would be poor three months later.”
He said that while the fourth quarter of the year was key for retail sales, the first quarter tended to be equally important, in terms of business sentiment.
He seemed upbeat that the recent increase in retailer confidence should prove an ongoing trend rather than just a positive blip — something which will be easier to read when Retail Ireland issues its next quarterly sentiment index in three months’ time.
However, he said that an important stimulus in boosting longer-term consumer and retailer confidence will, ultimately, have to come from the Government.
While complimenting the it on the job to date, Mr Lynam said that the Government staying “on message” (sticking with its intention of moving the budget announcement away from the busy festive shopping season and not back-tracking on its promise of not introducing mini-budgets ahead of next year’s scheduled address) would be a key mood developer.
“Despite the increase in sales in recent months, retailers continue to be concerned. Last Christmas, retail sales data showed a rise, only for the market to slip back again in the new year. Ireland’s domestic economy remains in a very fragile state. Unless Government can give consumers the stability and confidence they need to spend, sustainable recovery will not take place,” he said.
According to Retail Ireland’s data, retailers now believe 2013 could see a significant upturn in sales.
This follows on from a good increase in sales in the run-up to Christmas and a year-on-year rise in post-Christmas buying, with some shops reporting a 10% rise in sales on St Stephen’s Day compared to the same day in 2011.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved