Irish retail sales volumes returned to month-on-month growth in August after a brief dip in July, rising 3.5% even as no further COVID-19 restrictions were eased, with bar and department store sales increasing sharply.
Volumes were 6.0% higher than in the same month a year ago, when the economy was between lockdowns, and 14.8% up on pre-pandemic levels in August 2019, continuing the trend of the last two months, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) said on Tuesday.
Commenting on the release, Stephanie Kelleher, statistician, CSO said, “In August 2021, the largest monthly volume increases in sales were recorded in Books, Newspapers & Stationery (+48.7%), Bars (+31.9%) and Department Stores (+20.2%). "
"The sectors which experienced decreases in the month were Non-Specialised Stores (incl. Supermarkets) (-3.7%) and Pharmaceuticals, Medical & Cosmetic Articles (-2.3%)," she noted.
Providing further analysis of the figures, Kelleher said,”Compared to August 2019, pre-COVID-19, most sectors have higher sales than two years ago. The highest increases were seen in Motor Trades (+26.9%), Electrical Goods (+23.6%) and Department Stores (+19.2%).
Two sectors had a volume of sales in August 2021 lower than August 2019 levels, Bars (-27.6%) and Books, Newspapers & Stationery (-13.4%), the research showed.
“The proportion of retail sales transacted online (from Irish registered companies) was 4.9% in August 2021, similar to July 2021 (4.8%) and August of last year (4.5%),” she concluded.
Separate credit and debit card usage compiled by the central bank has shown spending to 20 September was up 14% year-on-year.
Theatres and cinemas reopened at limited capacity this month with workers encouraged to return to the office from last week.