Retail sales advance in May as consumers flock to reopened shops

Latest CSO data point to 1.8 per cent rise on previous month

Irish consumers flocked to newly reopened shops to buy clothes and other goods in May as non-essential retail reopened after months of lockdown.

Irish consumers flocked to newly reopened shops to buy clothes and other goods in May as non-essential retail reopened after months of lockdown.

 

Irish consumers flocked to newly reopened shops to buy clothes and other goods in May as non-essential retail opened again after months of lockdown.

Central Statistics Office (CSO) figures show retail sales rose by 1.8 per cent in May compared to April.

On an annual basis, retail volumes were 44 per cent higher than in May 2020, but the CSO cautioned that year-on-year comparisons were misleading because of the low base of sales that took place in the same month of 2020.

Recovering from the low level of May last year, the sectors with the highest annual volume increases were clothing, footwear and textiles (+462 per cent ), furniture and lighting (+195 per cent ) and motor trades (+139 per cent).

To illustrate the volatility of the figures, the CSO noted that in May of last year, the annual volume of retail sales in clothing, footwear and textiles fell by 78.5 per cent, furniture and lighting fell by 66.5 per cent while motor trades dropped by 50 per cent.

Nonetheless the May 2021 figures were 6.8 per cent higher than the same month two years ago, suggesting several sectors have now surpassed pre-pandemic levels.

However, others were still struggling, remaining below their corresponding level of sales in May 2019. These included bars (-92 per cent), books, newspapers and stationery (-65.2 per cent), department stores (-17.3 per cent) and fuel (-12.1 per cent) .

The Government is expected to decide on Tuesday on a reopening date for indoor hospitality, which has been pencilled in for July 5th.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said at the weekend that the Government would need advice from its public health expert groups before making a final decision on whether to further ease Covid-19 curbs from that date.