Retail sales grow strongly despite Brexit uncertainty

September sales buoyed by strong pick-up in sales of hardware, paints and glass

Consumers are more cautious about spending on big-ticket items

Retail sales grew strongly in September despite fears that the current Brexit uncertainty would dent consumer spending.

The volume of sales increased 4.3 per cent in September compared with the previous month and by 4.2 per cent on an annual basis.

When volatile car sales are excluded, “core” retail sales rose 2.3 per cent month on month and 4.7 per cent on an annual basis.

The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) has warned that 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 hardware, paints and glass (8.8 per cent) and motor trades (8.4 per cent).

Largest decreases

The sectors with the largest monthly volume decreases were department stores (-2.2 per cent) and clothing, footwear and textiles (-2.2 per cent).

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

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy is Economics Correspondent of The Irish Times