Retail Ireland, the Ibec group that represents the retail sector, has published its Q1 Retail Monitor, with key indicators pointing to further improvements in performance across the retail sector this year.
The report follows positive trends during 2014 and a strong Christmas trading period. January VAT returns of €225 million (12.9% more than last year) suggest a turning point in the road to economic recovery.
Key findings in the report include supermarkets and convenience stores seeing December 2014 sales up 1.5% on 2013. Stores in the greater Dublin area continue to record the strongest recovery, with regional locations lagging behind. However, specialised food and drink stores, such as off-licences and fishmongers saw a loss in sales over the Christmas trading period of 1% compared to the same time in 2013.
Consumers also look set to benefit from another year of low inflation, with intense competition from retailers keeping prices down. Retail Ireland estimates overall inflation in the economy to be 0.4% this year. Currently, goods inflation is at -2% annually.
However the group warns that retail recovery is still in its infancy and many pressures remain for businesses. It states that many businesses are still constrained by boom time costs and charge and progress could be undone if costs, including wages, increase beyond what is affordable.
On calls for high pay increases, Retail Ireland Director Tom Burke commented, "Creating unrealistic expectations will only result in harmful discord in workplaces and could force companies to rethink recruitment plans. Retail was one of the last sectors to feel the recovery and we still have a very long way to go."
© 2015 - Checkout Magazine by Jenny Whelan.