Retail Ireland reported that retail sales took a serious drop due to the disruption caused by Storm Emma, while the grocery sector rode the wave to significant growth.
The retail sector suffered sales losses exceeding 30% in some instances, but as consumers stocked up on essentials total value sales increased by 4% in the first quarter of 2018. Total sales volumes also shot up by 6% compared to last year.
Retail Ireland, the Ibec group that represents the sector, said that after a strong start to 2018, retailers have struggled to make up for the lost sales which ran into the tens of millions of euros industry-wide.
Other industry categories such as Department Stores, Fuel Stations, Pharmaceuticals and Fashion all teetered around the margin with 3%/-1% growth in both value and volume sales. Growth was driven by the initial strong start.
Retail Ireland Director Thomas Burke said, “Our members enjoyed a strong start to 2018 with a buoyant economy and growing consumer disposable income fuelling strong sales. However, the benefit of that increase was largely wiped away during the last week of February, as Storm Emma caused widespread disruption and closures over four key trading days (Thursday-Sunday), and longer-term supply chain and consumer disruption which ran into a full week.
“According to our Monitor, members have reported like-for-like falls of over 30% when compared to the same week in 2017, as retail outlets were forced to close and supply chains disrupted.”
Retail Ireland added that it worked closely with the National Emergency Coordination Group over the course of the extreme weather and it has called on the Government to ensure that preparations are made now for the next such event.
Burke said, “Government should be complimented for its proactive response during Storm Emma, but retailers should also be praised for their resilience in ensuring shelves remained stocked with key staples and supply chains withstood pressures during a period of unprecedented demand. Retailers put the safety of their staff first and took the proactive decision to close stores as we moved into red weather warning territory.
“We must, however, take learnings from what went wrong and put in place systems to ensure we are better placed to manage future such events. The retail sector stands ready to play its part in that review and future preparation exercise”.
© 2018 Checkout – your source for the latest Irish retail news. Article by Aidan O’Sullivan. Click subscribe to sign up for the Checkout print edition.