Positive sign as retail sales up last month


RETAIL SALES rose in September for the third consecutive month, according to new figures published by the Central Statistics Office.

The volume of retail sales rose by 0.9 per cent between August and September and by 0.5 per cent when volatile motor trades were excluded.

Sales in September, excluding motor and bar sales, were up 2 per cent on the same month last year and by 0.1 per cent on August.

The sectors with the largest month-on-month volume increases were bars (up 4.5 per cent), electrical goods (up 2.8 per cent) and department stores (up 2.6 per cent). Bar sales experienced their first annual rise since October 2007, with volumes up 2.3 per cent and values increasing 3.9 per cent over the same period.

“We welcome this increase in the volume and value of retail sales in September but the industry continues to be in a state of great distress,” said the chief executive of Retail Excellence Ireland, David Fitzsimons.

Mr Fitzsimons said the ongoing speculation around Budget 2013 will continue to affect retail sales and consumer sentiment as Christmas approaches.

The household sector remains under pressure, and things aren’t going to get any easier soon, according to Merrion economist Alan McQuaid. Echoing Mr Fitzsimons, he said: “Heightened anxiety about the prospects for future incomes are set to persist due to the high level of unemployment and further austerity measures in the forthcoming budget, such that consumers are likely to maintain buffers to protect against adverse income shocks.”

The worst-hit sectors were books, newspapers and stationery, which fell more than 10 per cent, and fuel, which declined 1.8 per cent. Hardware, paints and glass fell by 4.3 per cent.

“Electrical goods showed the largest increase, in large part due to the purchase of new television sets in time for the digital switch over,” Retail Ireland director Stephen Lynam said.