Retail sales fall as consumers spend less in department stores and bars

Latest CSO figures show volume of retail sales dropped by 1.2% in April

Retail sales fell in April as consumers bought fewer cars and spent less in department stores and bars, the latest data from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) indicate.

They show the volume of retail sales dropped by 1.2 per cent in April and was down 0.9 per cent compared to a year ago. However, when volatile car sales are excluded sales were up marginally (0.1 per cent) in April and by 0.2 per cent in annualised terms.

Retail sales have remained relatively strong in the context of cost-of-living pressures and higher borrowing costs. This has been linked to the strength of the labour market. So while many consumers have seen their purchasing power curtailed in recent years there are more people at work than even before, meaning consumer spending on a cumulative basis has held up.

The latest figures show the largest monthly volume decreases were recorded in department stores, which dropped 5.5 per cent; books, newspapers and stationery were down 5.1 per cent; while fuel dipped 4 per cent. Spending in bars slipped 2.5 per cent.


Car sales, which have a greater weighting than most categories, were down by 0.7 per cent.

Three sectors showed monthly volume increases, the CSO said. The clothing, footwear and textiles category saw volumes increase by 17.3 per cent, while hardware, paints and glass were up 2.5 per cent, with furniture and lighting up 0.9 per cent.

The value of retail sales was up 4.1 per cent in the month and rose 2.1 per cent in the 12 months to April, the CSO said.

The proportion of retail sales transacted online (from Irish-registered companies) was 5.3 per cent in April compared with 5.1 per cent in March and 5.1 per cent in April.

The figures do not reflect online sales with overseas businesses, such as Amazon, which account for the lion’s share of online transactions here. The CSO does not have the legal right to request data from these businesses, and therefore the total level of retail sales occurring online is not known.

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy is Economics Correspondent of The Irish Times