Retail sales remain steady in May
But motor industry still volatile as sales volumes fall by 5.5 per cent compared with April
The motor industry remained volatile in may, falling by 5.5 per cent compared with April and 3.5 per cent year on year.
Retail sales remained steady in May, with volumes rising 0.1 per cent compared with the previous month, new data from the Central Statistics Office has revealed.
But the annual figures revealed a fall of 0.7 per cent, as the volatile motor trade continued to have an impact.
When that sector was removed, core retail sales showed a 1.4 per cent rise in volume during the month and remained static year on year.
Over the month, the largest changes were seen in the hardware sector, where volumes rose 14 per cent, food and drink, with a 5.2 per cent rise, and the motor trade, where volumes dipped 5.5 per cent. The books and newspaper sector also had a tough month, with sales volumes falling by 3.9 per cent.
In value terms, retail sales were down 0.4 per cent month on month, and 1.7 per cent compared with 2012. When motor sales were discounted, monthly sales rose by 1.1 per cent and annual figures fell by 1 per cent.
Goodbody’s Dermot O’Leary said the use of increased discounting to drive sales volumes was “interesting”, with the annual decline in value of 1 per cent the fastest rate since 2010.
“From a macro point of view, yesterday’s disappointing GDP release was partly due to a weak consumer in Q1,” he said. “Judging from the latest data, a similar drag should not be apparent in Q2.”
Davy’s David McNamara said the data was “very encouraging given the broad-based rise in sales”.
“Motor trades continue to act as a drag on volumes, which we expected given the fall in registrations in May,” he wrote in a note. “The exceptionally weak level of car sales may be partly due to the changes to the licence plate system, with consumers potentially holding off on purchases until the second half of the year.”
The Irish Small & Medium Enterprises Association (Isme) called for action from the Government.
“It is time that our government realised that the retail industry is not just a small number of over-dominant grocery multiples; it comprises of every shop and store in every street, village and town,” said Isme chief executive Mark Fielding.
“Without a clear and properly targeted policy initiative we will see many more small retail outlets close, leaving the ‘labour-light’ operating model to ‘service’ the customer, with its negative impact on employment, innovation, standard of service and choice for the consumer.”