No lift for retail sales in November despite euro zone surge

Sales remain steady despite Christmas shopping lift due to decline in car sales

New car sales fell by 6.4 per cent in 2013 new figures from the CSO show. Photograph: Luke MacGregor/Reuters

New car sales fell by 6.4 per cent in 2013 new figures from the CSO show. Photograph: Luke MacGregor/Reuters



Retail sales stayed steady in November, as a boon in sales from early Christmas shoppers was offset by a decline in motor sales. However, on an annual basis, sales increased by 1.7 per cent according to figures from the Central Statistics Office, and when motor trades are excluded, November actually saw a 1.3 per cent increase in retail sales.

On a sectoral basis, clothing, footwear and textiles saw the largest increase (+5.7%), followed by department stores (+4.2%) and furniture & lighting (+2.7%), as consumers started their Christmas shopping early.

Falling however, were sales of books, newspapers & stationery, which saw the largest decline (-3.2%), followed by motor trades (-2.5%) and food, beverages & tobacco (-1.8%).

ISME, the Irish Small & Medium Enterprise Association, has called for the establishment of a Retail Strategy Group to assist Irish retailers continuing to struggle with high overheads and low consumer demand. Otherwise further jobs will be lost in the sector, “despite the general but gradual improvement in the overall economy” the association said.

In contrast, data for retail sales across the euro zone showed the biggest monthly jump for 12 years. Retail sales in the 17 countries using the euro rebounded 1.4 per cent in November after a 0.4 per cent decline in October, the fastest monthly increase since November 2001. Compared with the same period last year, the volume of sales rose 1.6 per cent after a 0.3 per cent fall in October.

Retail sales rose strongly in the euro zone’s two largest economies, Germany and France, by 1.5 and 2.1 per cent respectively, despite a deterioration in French consumer and businesses morale in November. Sales continued to improve in Portugal, up 3.1 per cent on the month, the strongest in entire euro zone, and in Spain, where retail sales rose 1.9 per cent.

The CSO also released figures for the sale of new cars in 2013 today. On an annual basis, sales fell by 6.4 per cent, with 71,348 new private cars licensed in the year to the end of December 2013. However there was a big jump in the sale of second hand imported cars, which rose by 29.4 per cent, up to 49,762 in the year.

In December alone, new car sales fell by 17.4 per cent to 639 in the month when compared with December 2012. Used (imported) private cars licensed for the first time were down 6.4 per cent to 3,181 for the same period.