Irish retail sales increased by 7.2% in December 2017 compared to the same month the year before, according to new figures.
Seasonally adjusted, the volume of retail sales decreased by 0.1% in the month of December, according to the latest retail sales figures from the Central Statistics Office.
If motor trades are excluded there was a decrease of 0.1% in the volume of retail sales in December 2017, compared the month before, with an increase of 7.6% annually.
“While figures might be up marginally this has occurred at the expense of intensive marketing campaigns undertaken by retailers and consequentially reduced margins,” Lorraine Higgins, Retail Excellence, told The Irish Times.
“The fourth quarter of 2017 proved a challenging quarter with a very poor October in particular,” Higgins added. “This is undoubtedly attributable to a combination of factors to include a dip in consumer sentiment which usually accompanies budget announcements and spending being postponed until Black Friday.”
Electrical goods experienced the largest monthly volume decrease (-17.9%), followed by department stores (-4.0%) and other retail sales (-2.9%).
“Jewellery endured a very poor quarter due to the migration of demand to international markets either online or as a result of consumers buying abroad on leisure trips,” Higgins said. “The less than fulsome inspection of packages in sorting offices and the need for more stringent customs controls at airports is leading to significant erosion of spending at home and billions in lost taxes to the State.”
The largest sales volume increases were recorded for furniture and lighting (3.1%) and books, newspapers and stationery (3.1%).
Value retail sales for December 2017 were up 4.5% year-on-year, while decreasing 0.5% compared to November 2017. Excluding motor trades there was a decrease of 1.0% on the month and a 4.6% increase in the annual figure.
The recovery of retail was marginal overall, according to Higgins, who called for legislation to offset the rise in cheap imported goods.
“The industry continues to be threatened by the influx of cheap imports coming from non-EU websites and the failure to intercept every parcel coming in to Ireland from outside the EU,” she said. “And the consequential application of customs and VAT on such goods is a missed opportunity for the exchequer. Retail-focused policies and legislation must be implemented to curtail this.”
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