Irish retail sales growth rises 3.3% in May

Latest CSO figures show car sales fell 4.9% while fuel sales increased 7.9% year on year

The volume of Irish retail sales increased by 3.3 per cent in the year to may. When car sales are excluded, that jumps to 7.3 per cent. Photograph: iStock

The volume of Irish retail sales increased by 3.3 per cent in the year to may. When car sales are excluded, that jumps to 7.3 per cent. Photograph: iStock

 

The volume of Irish retail sales picked up pace in May and increased by 3.3 per cent compared to the same month last year. That’s significantly higher than April when retail sales recorded their slowest pace in three years amid a drop-off in new car sales.

In May, businesses involved in both the sale and maintenance of new and used cars recorded a drop in sales of 4.9 per cent compared to the same month last year. Fuel sales however, increased by 7.9 per cent compared to May 2016. Fuel sales in this context only refers to retail sales related to vehicles.

The latest figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO)indicate that the volume of retail sales increased by 0.8 per cent in the month of May compared to April with paints and glass, electrical goods and books, newspapers and stationary increasing between 3.1 and 6.5 per cent.

Biggest losers

Department stores and bars were among the biggest losers in the month of May and recorded a drop in the volume of retail sales of 1.9 per cent and 3.4 per cent respectively.

The exclusion of motor trades from the figures show a more substantial annual increase of 7.3 per cent in the year to May 2017 while the monthly figure remains unchanged.

The latest retail sales data was “better than expected”, according to Alan McQuaid, an economist at Merrion Capital Group.

“Retail sales continue to remain erratic on a monthly basis and are still swinging back and forth, but the underlying trend is positive.

“While most attention has been on robust car sales in the past couple of years, personal spending in other areas has generally picked up over the same period and is becoming more broad-based”, Mr McQuaid added.

Looking to the future, Mr McQuaid forecasts an increase in retail sales volume this year compared to 2016 when motor trades are excluded. He projects core retail sales to be between 6 per cent and 7 per cent higher by the end of the year.