Volume of retail sales falls slightly


THE VOLUME of retail sales fell in May, showing a marginal decline from April and an annual fall of 2.1 per cent, new data showed yesterday.

The month saw sales at bars fall by 4.2 per cent compared with April, while books and newspapers were down 2.8 per cent. Sales of electrical goods were 2.5 per cent lower. This was partly offset by a rise in tobacco and beverages of 6.5 per cent, with hardware and paints sales up 6.3 per cent.

Once again the volatile motor trade contributed significantly to figures, declining 1.9 per cent in volume over the month. When excluded, monthly sales volume was 0.8 per cent higher, with annual sales showing a similar growth compared with May last year.

“Despite a pick-up in ‘core’ sales in May, we’re not anticipating a major rise in spending in the coming months. Heightened uncertainty about the prospects for future incomes may well persist given the high level of unemployment such that consumers could continue to maintain buffers to protect against adverse income shocks,” said Alan McQuaid of Merrion Stockbrokers.

The value of retail sales also fell, with the monthly figures showing a 0.4 per cent decline, and the annual change measuring -1.5 per cent.

Goodbody stockbrokers said the value figures may be a better indicator of the health of the sector in May.

“Weather effects can play a big role in these fluctuations. May 2012 was a better than average month for the weather, while May 2011 was particularly wet,” it said in a note.

“With weather in June 2012 being wet we are likely to see a fall in sales this month. Due to this volatility, it is sometimes better to look at the level of spending rather than the change.”