Irish retail sales values grew by 4.7% in the first quarter of the year when compared with the same period in 2018, aided by a 'mild late winter' and 'early spring', research showed.
While these figures are robust, it must be highlighted that in this period last year, Ireland found itself under a blanket of snow and was suffering the disruptive effects of Storm Emma, according to Retail Ireland latest Retail Monitor which the group published today.
“After a rocky fourth quarter of 2018, in which trade ebbed and flow almost by the day, retailers will be hoping that a level of consistency to trade can be found in 2019," Thomas Burke, director of Retail Ireland, said.
"It is clear that retail sales patterns in the second half of 2018 were heavily impacted by Brexit related commentary."
The Ibec group that represents the sector, highlighted in its report that an extension to the Brexit negotiating period until October seems to 'have calmed nerves somewhat'.
"The daily game of brinkmanship is no longer leading news bulletins, and for hard-pressed Irish retailers this is good news. On the back of this we have seen an uptick in consumer sentiment as people’s worst fears of a crash out Brexit, have been allayed, at least for the moment." Burke added.
There has also been a modest uptick in consumer confidence this quarter coming off the back of some respite from Brexit uncertainty which is reflected in the sales data.
Supermarkets and Convenience Stores
The report showed, that primary driver for volume over value growth continues to be 'competitive action' for supermarkets, with the battle for market share between multiples 'very intense' and the 'slower but inexorable' continuing growth of discounters also contributing to downward pressures.
A buoyant economy has been good news for the convenience sector, which is also in growth, the research indicated.
The Monitor also shows that while sales are up across almost all categories of retail, the ever-present trends of discounting and the continuing shift to online are also evident, particularly in retail categories such as computers and electrical goods and department stores.
In terms of the outlook for the remainder of the year, Burke highlighted that many businesses will have budgeted against the performance of Summer 2018.
"For those categories that are particularly reliant on good weather to drive footfall and sales, clearly this will prove challenging. With no guarantee of a similar prolonged spell of fine weather retailers will have to be creative if they are to achieve such heights once more.” he concluded.
© 2019 Checkout – your source for the latest Irish retail news. Article by Donna Ahern. Click sign-up to subscribe to Checkout.