Retail sales decline in October but annual trend remains positive

CSO data shows sales fell by 0.5% in October but were still up 3% in annual terms


Retail sales fell by 0.5 per cent in October but were still up by 3 per cent in annual terms. Excluding motor trades, sales were down 2.1 per cent in the month but 3.2 per cent higher in the year, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) said.

The weaker monthly trend was driven by a 9.3 per cent drop in the “other retail sales” category, which includes a certain portion of online sales, and by a 5.2 per cent decline in fuel sales.

The sectors with the largest monthly volume increases were pharmaceuticals, medical and cosmetic articles (8.1 per cent ) and clothing, footwear and textiles (3 per cent).

Erratic sales

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

“Even with the fluctuation in consumer sentiment, overall personal spending has been positive in the past few years, boosted by the increase in the numbers employed in the country,” he said.

“This is despite the fact that the weakness in sterling since the June 2016 Brexit referendum has enticed some shoppers to spend in Northern Ireland, ” Mr McQuaid said.

He said “core” retail sales figures for the first 10 months of 2019 suggest that the Irish economy continued to grow at a solid pace in the January-October period, with the focus now on November and Black Friday in particular.