Retail sales flat in second quarter as consumer confidence erodes

New figures show consumers concerned over Brexit and political instability in Ireland

Retailers continued to experience difficult trading conditions during the second quarter with industry growth rates remaining flat, new figures show.

The latest Grant Thornton/Retail Excellence Ireland (REI) retail productivity review shows some sectors got a boost in late May and early June as warm weather hit the country. But for most, it was a period of like-for-like sales decline.

REI said concern over Brexit and political instability closer to home as political parties fought it out over who would set up a government contributed to what it described as a “disappointing quarter”.

Clement weather


Sales of agri- and garden-related products rose 9 per cent on the back of clement weather early in the quarter, while home appliances jumped 14 per cent and consumer electronics increased 5 per cent. Computer-related items and digital cameras also increased by 8.7 per cent and 21 per cent respectively but elsewhere it was largely a series of declines.

Furniture and flooring sales fell once again, recording its third consecutive quarterly decline as sales dropped by 4 per cent. Sales of women’s and children’s wear were down by 2.7 per cent and 2.2 per cent respectively with jewellery sales falling by 3.7 per cent.

REI said underlying consumer confidence seems to be eroding and urged politicians to focus on the needs of the domestic economy. It also called for the full implementation of the employers’ PRSI reduction for low-paid workers.

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor is a former Irish Times business journalist