Retail sales were stronger than anticipated in April and continue to improve across the economy, analysts said yesterday.
Sales increased 5.1% on an annual basis, and 0.8% in the year.
Excluding the motor industry, retail sales were up 0.6% in the month, and were 3.6% higher in the year, compared with a revised, annual rise of 6.1% in March.
“Although retail sales remain erratic on a monthly basis, the underlying trend is positive. While most attention was on cars last year, and will be again in 2016, personal spending in other areas has picked up in recent months and is becoming more broad-based. This can only be good news for retailers and employment prospects in the sector,” Merrion Stockbrokers chief economist, Alan McQuaid, said.
The strongest growth was in electrical goods, where sales were 8% higher than in March.
Other sectors that had strong growth in April included department stores (+3.0%) and furniture and lighting (+1.7%).
The sectors with the largest monthly decreases were books, newspapers, and stationery (-6.7%), hardware, paints and glass (-3.5%), and clothing, footwear and textiles (-2.3%).
There was an increase of 0.4% in retail sales in April, when compared with March, while an annual increase of 2.5% was recorded.
Currency movements have helped stimulate greater tourism spend this year, while low deposit rates and tax cuts in last year’s budget should also help sustain spending for the remainder of the year.
“The weakness of the euro, against both sterling and the dollar, boosted the spending of holidaymakers to Ireland from the United States and UK, in 2015, though the single currency will likely strengthen a bit in 2016.
“That said, tourism expenditure is still forecast to be positive again this year.
“Ultra-low, deposit interest rates and increased disposable income, helped by tax-cuts in last October’s budget, should lead to higher personal spending this year, as should the improving labour market. However, political uncertainty, both at home and in the UK, may weigh on spending patterns in the second quarter, with early indications pointing to lower growth in the April-June period than in January-March,” Mr McQuaid said.
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