Volume of retail sales fell for seventh consecutive month in November

Largest annual volume decreases were in ‘other retail sales’, motor trades, food, beverages and tobacco, and furniture and lighting

Retail sales fell by 4.2 per cent in November compared with the same month the year before, marking the seventh consecutive month the annual volume change was negative, data from the Central Statistics Office shows.

The sectors which showed the largest decreases were other retail sales (-25.8 per cent), motor trades (-11 per cent), food, beverages and tobacco (-6.3 per cent), and furniture and lighting (-4.3 per cent).

Bars report the biggest increase in the volume of trade (up 13.6 per cent), followed by department stores (6.5 per cent), electrical goods (5.1 per cent), fuel (3.9 per cent), and clothing, footwear and textiles (3.5 per cent).

Sales were also down on a monthly basis, coming in 1.4 per cent below the October figures. Bar sales actually led that monthly decline (-11.3 per cent), with motor trades (-9 per cent), furniture and lighting (-4 per cent) and other retail sales (-3.4 per cent) also reporting notable drops in business.

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The largest monthly volume increases were in clothing, footwear and textiles (19.3 per cent), electrical goods (4.4 per cent), books, newspapers and stationery (2.2 per cent), and pharmaceuticals, medical and cosmetic articles (2.2 per cent).

By value, retail sales were still 1.4 per cent lower in November than October but 3.6 per cent higher than a year earlier as the impact of higher prices was factored in. Excluding motor trades, the value of retail sales actually increased by 3.1 per cent in the month and rose by 6.3 per cent on an annual basis.

In sales volume terms, stripping motor trades out of the figures yields a monthly volume increase of 3.5 per cent in November, though volumes were 1.4 per cent lower on an annual basis.

Compared with pre-Covid February 2020, the highest increases in the volume of retail sales in November were seen in clothing, footwear and textiles (47 per cent), electrical goods (31.1 per cent), as well as pharmaceuticals, medical and cosmetic articles (26.1 per cent). There were also increases in hardware, paints and glass (15.8 per cent), and food, beverages and tobacco (10.1 per cent).

The largest volume decreases during the same period occurred in other retail sales (-18.6 per cent), bars (-12.3 per cent), and books, newspapers and stationery (-11.4 per cent).

The proportion of retail sales transacted online from Irish registered companies was 6.3 per cent in November compared with 4.6 per cent in October, 6 per cent in November 2021, and 12.4 per cent in November 2020.

Excluding motor trades, the proportion of retail sales transacted online in November was 8.4 per cent, compared with 6.1 per cent in October 2022 and 6.8 per cent in November 2021.

Separately, total card spending, including ATM withdrawals, increased by 9 per cent, or €733 million, in November (€8.7 billion) compared with the previous month, according to data from the Central Bank.

When compared with November 2021, total card spending had increased by 5 per cent or €419 million. The increase in spending was driven primarily by the retail sector. All headline sectors saw month-on-month and year-on-year increases.

Total point of sale card expenditure increased by 11 per cent to €7.6 billion in November compared with October.

ATM transactions remained unchanged at €1.1 billion in November compared with October and saw a 4 per cent year-on-year decline.

The volume of point-of-sale card transactions was 5 per cent or 7.8 million higher when compared with the previous month. The average value of transactions increased by 5 per cent to €46.83 per transaction.

Total card expenditure outside of Ireland decreased by 7 per cent, or €25 million, when compared with the previous month. When compared with November 2021, this represents an increase of 13 per cent, or €41 million.

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson is an Irish Times reporter