Retail sales rise in June following further loosening of restrictions

June’s volume was 13.1% higher than the same month in 2019 before Covid struck

On an annual basis clothing and footwear sales increased by 42.6%. Photograph: iStock

On an annual basis clothing and footwear sales increased by 42.6%. Photograph: iStock


Retail sales rose in June as the sector picked up pace following the further loosening of Covid-19 restrictions. Figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) showed sales volume was 3.3 per cent higher compared with May’s figures, and 10.6 per cent higher than in June 2020.

However, the 2020 comparative figures were during a period when some restrictions on non-essential retail were in place and, with this in mind, the CSO has cautioned on interpreting the comparative changes.

When compared with 2019 figures for the month, retail sales in June 2021 were 13.1 per cent higher than those pre-Covid figures.

The highest monthly increase in the latest figures was seen in bars, where sales surged 553 per cent on the month and 184 per cent on the year. The sector has been limited since the pandemic began, with many premises remaining shut since the initial lockdown in March 2020.

There were also significant annual sales increases in books, newspapers and stationery, a category which rose almost 47 per cent; in clothing and footwear, which increased by 42.6 per cent, and in department stores, which increased by 37.7 per cent.

In 2020, non-essential retail premises with their own on-street access could reopen on June 8th, while shopping centres could only reopen on June 15th.

When compared with pre-Covid figures, bars were still 48 per cent below June 2019 volumes, while books, newspapers and stationery were almost 11 per cent lower and fuel was down 4.4 per cent.

“Extreme caution should be exercised when interpreting these changes [between 2020 and 2021], as the comparison is with a low base,” said Stephanie Kelleher, statistician with the CSO. “Last year, bars serving food could open on June 29th, 2020, while this year bars were allowed serve customers outdoors for the entire month.”

All other sectors showed an increase in sales compared with 2019, with “other retail sales” rising 33.8 per cent, and hardware, paints and glass rising 28.1 per cent.

Irish-registered companies saw the proportion of retail sales transacted online fall to 5 per cent last month from 6.7 per cent in June 2020, as more people returned to in-person shopping.