Retail Ireland has reported that Ireland's retail sector is struggling to meet Christmas sales expectations.
The group had predicted an increase of roughly 2.5% over the holiday period, resulting in boosted sales of €160 million in December.
However, Director Thomas Burke commented, "the sector is struggling to meet growth targets due to challenging trading conditions".
This is despite Irish consumers having more disposable income (+1.5% in the first half of 2015), and more being employed this festive season (up 2.9% on Christmas 2015).
According to Retail Ireland, high levels of competition in the grocery sector, unseasonable weather,the extension of Black Friday sales, and UK competition have all contributed to the revenue shortfall.
Retailers have been cutting prices to keep with the trend of pre-Christmas sales, and the weakness of the pound has led to price drops on items from the UK. Meanwhile, a price drop of 3% in the last year has brought costs back to Christmas 2000 levels.
Burke stated, "2016 has been the proverbial tale of two halves for Irish retailers. While the first six months of the year saw sustained growth in the sector, the midpoint of the year marked a significant slowdown in this growth trajectory. Unfortunately it would appear that this trend has continued into the Christmas period."
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