Retail sales fell 30% during lockdown although online purchases soared

Industry body Retail Excellence report on hardest-hit sectors

Retail sales fell by close to 30 per cent during lockdown, according to industry body Retail Excellence Ireland (REI) with sharp declines in clothing and footwear offset by increased demand for groceries.

The agency’s report, which compiles data from 4,500 stores across the State , suggested headline sales fell by 29.2 per cent in the second quarter of 2020 and were down by 47 per cent in April alone.

The hardest hit sectors were clothing with menswear and ladieswear, down over 75 per cent, and hot beverages such as coffee, down 82 per cent . The grocery sector, however, continued to perform strongly as people stayed at home with sales up nearly 18 per cent.

Online sales grew by over 200 per cent, the fastest rate of expansion ever recorded.

“The industry has seen the sharpest decline in sales in living memory with all non-essential retail closed across the state for nearly three months,” REI managing director Duncan Graham said. “Customer shopping habits changed dramatically during the period as people shopped online. Online shopping grew by 200 per cent as ‘bricks and mortar’ retailers expanded their online offering.”

Mr Graham said last week's July stimulus plan from the Government would help one of the hardest hit industries, but more support will be needed in the future.

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy is Economics Correspondent of The Irish Times