Retail sales rise 0.3% in year to May

Department stores, electrical goods and hardware drive monthly sales volume

Retail sales were flat in May, new data from the Central Statistics Office showed, with annual growth at 0.3 per cent.

On a monthly basis, department stores, electrical goods and hardware showed the largest increases in sales volume, while furniture and lighting showed a 22.3 per cent decrease and clothing and footwear fell by 21.1 per cent. The motor sector also showed a decline in sales volume of 7 per cent compared to April 2022.

Bars showed the largest increase year on year, at 769 per cent, but that was against a low base from a year ago as Covid-19 restrictions closed hospitality. Books and stationery also showed a significant rise year on year, at 107 per cent. “However despite this large recovery in May 2022 over the previous year, bar sales remained 26.6 per cent lower than their pre-Covid-19 level in February 2020,” said Stephanie Kelleher, statistician in the business statistics division.

Volume in the motor trade was down 14.6 per cent over the year. Excluding motor trade, sales were down 1.3 per cent in the month, and 4.3 per cent year on year.

Compared to pre-Covid levels, retail sales volume was up 7.2 per cent in May versus February 2019, with the highest increases seen in hardware and paints, which were up 24.1 per cent, while clothing and footwear was up 23.2 per cent and pharmaceuticals up 17.4 per cent.

The largest decreases in the volume of sales were books and newspapers, which fell by 27 per cent, and bars which saw sales decline 26.6 per cent.

Online sales continued to rise, with 6.1 per cent of sales in May conducted through online channels. That compared to 4.9 per cent in April, and 5.6 per cent a year ago. In May 2020, during the Covid-19 lockdown, 13.2 per cent of sales were conducted online.

Higher prices for fuel contributed to a sharp rise in the value of sales in the sector, which rose 27.1 per cent in year to May 2022, while volume was down 0.5 per cent.

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist