Car and bar sales lift monthly retail numbers

Latest positive figures come despite concern Brexit would dampen business

A breakdown of the latest figures shows the sectors with the largest month-on-month volume increases were motor trades (12 per cent ) and bars (10.6 per cent).

A breakdown of the latest figures shows the sectors with the largest month-on-month volume increases were motor trades (12 per cent ) and bars (10.6 per cent).

 

Retail sales rose by nearly 6 per cent in August on foot a jump in car and bar sales.

Despite concern that a Brexit-related slide in consumer confidence would dampen business, Central Statistics Office (CSO) figures show the volume of sales increased 5.7 per cent last month when compared with July and were up by 2.1 per cent on an annual basis.

When volatile car sales are excluded, “core” retail sales rose by 1.1 per cent month on month and by 4.4 per cent on an annual basis.

The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) has warned that the ongoing Brexit uncertainty was having a direct impact on the Republic’s economy with consumers more cautious about spending on big-ticket items.

A breakdown of the latest figures shows the sectors with the largest month-on-month volume increases were motor trades (12 per cent ) and bars (10.6 per cent).

However, car sales were still down 3.7 per cent on an annual basis reflecting the Brexit-related slide in sterling, which has seen a spike in used-car imports from the UK and a softening of new car sales here.

Decreases

The sectors with the largest monthly volume decreases were fuel (-4.4 per cent) and pharmaceuticals, medical and cosmetic articles (-3.3 per cent).

Economist Alan McQuaid cautioned that the monthly sales data tended to be erratic. “Motor trades were up strongly in August, even though intuitively that doesn’t make sense because January and July are the two strongest months for car sales under the current system. So on an unadjusted basis, car sales in August were down on July but up when allowing for seasonal factors,” he said.

“The same could apply to bars, but of course a lot of sales here can relate to sporting events, concerts, etc, in a given month,” he said.

“Overall, the figures are quite encouraging with ‘core’ sales, excluding cars, up around 4.5 per cent year on year in the first eight months of 2019, notwithstanding Brexit issues and the weakness of sterling,” Mr McQuaid said.

“How Brexit plays out will be key for consumer spending going forward but as long as employment holds up, then personal consumption growth should remain positive,” he added.