Retail Ireland has welcomed the continued growth in retail sales in February, as outlined in the latest CSO sales data.
Retail sales values, excluding bars and car sales, increased by 4.5% in the year to the end of February, indicating to a strong performance in the first few months of 2016.
Meanwhile, sales volumes across the retail sector also rose by 6.9% in the same period.
Retail Ireland Director Thomas Burke commented, “Retail sales are now benefitting from the positive momentum across the economy, although they remain 12.5% below February 2008 levels in value terms.
“A continuation of this positive trajectory should not be taken for granted. Many retailers are under pressure from a rapidly rising cost base and are concerned about the rate at which input costs are increasing.”
According to Burke, pressure on retailers is coming from the recently increased minimum wage, as well as rising rent in certain retail spaces, and growing insurance and utility costs.
He went on to highlight the concerns amongst retailers arising from external threats facing the sector, such as the ongoing Luas dispute.
"Our members have reported considerable declines in footfall levels in Dublin City centre stores during the days on which industrial action has taken place," he said.
"If this situation continues, the Dublin retail sector will pay a heavy and unacceptable price. This dispute, along with other mooted disputes in key transport networks, only serves to erode consumer confidence and remove shoppers from the city centre."
He also also expressed disappointment at the decision to delay plans to introduce higher frequency Dart services following opposition from drivers.
"A higher frequency Dart service has a crucial role to play in making the city more accessible and attractive to shoppers. The decision to delay its introduction is a setback for the city's retail sector, which has already been affected by several transport strikes this year."
© 2016 - Checkout Magazine by Jenny Whelan.