Preliminary figures from the Central Statistics Office have shown that the overall volume of retail sales was down 1.1% in November. Retail sales of food, beverages and tobacco were down 1.7% from October and down 2.1% on the same period last year.
In terms of value, sales of food, beverages and tobacco were down 1.3% on October and down 1.4% on November 2011.Commenting on the figures Retail Excellence Ireland has said that it is not surprised with the decrease in the volume and value of retail sales.
"The main factor contributing to this decrease was the scheduling of the budget in December last year. The kite flying for Budget 2013 did not help retail sales or consumer sentiment and caused many consumers to postpone their spend," said David Fitzsimons, CEO Retail Excellence Ireland.
Fitzsimons welcomes the Government's decision to schedule next year's Budget in October 2013, saying it will provide retailers with a much-needed boost for Christmas 2013.
Retail Ireland also said that the figures were disappointing given the recent positive figures the sector has seen in previous months. In October the volume of sales rose 1.8% on September and 3.6% on the same month last year. In terms of value, sales rose 2.1% on the previous month and 4.6% on an annual basis.
Retail Ireland Director Stephen Lynam said: "November was tough for retailers, and particularly disappointing given the positive figures in recent months [...] Luckily, tentative indications show that the Christmas period may have provided a welcome boost. Many Retail Ireland members reported positive results over the last few weeks, and our business sentiment survey from December shows retailers are more positive for the future."
However Davy Stockbrokers chief economist Conall Mac Coille has warned that any boost enjoyed during the Christmas period may not last. "Retail sales volumes rose by 4.4% in the final months of 2011 before falling back sharply in the first quarter of 2012," he said. "So as in 2011, transitory factors may have temporarily pushed up on retail sales volumes in 2012, but these may unwind in early 2013."
Mac Coille continued: "For example, the entire 1.7% rise in October reflected electrical goods sales, up 24.8% on the month, benefitting from the end of analogue TV transmissions. Similarly, political tensions in Northern Ireland may have pushed up on sales in the Republic of Ireland during the Christmas period. So the 'rebound' in Irish retail sales could be short-lived."