Retail sales up 3.2% in March compared with last year

Davy expects total consumer spending to grow by at least 3% in real terms in 2017

Excluding motor trades, there was an annual increase of 3.5 per cent in the value, and a monthly increase of 0.3 per cent

Excluding motor trades, there was an annual increase of 3.5 per cent in the value, and a monthly increase of 0.3 per cent

 

The volume of retail sales increased by 3.2 per cent in March, compared with the same period last year.

New figures from the Central Statistics Office also show retail sales decreased by 0.7 per cent compared with February.

Excluding motor trades, there was an increase of 6 per cent compared with March 2016. Compared with February 2017, however, the increase was just 0.7 per cent.

The sectors with the largest monthly volume decreases were furniture and lighting (-3.8 per cent), department stores (-3.3 per cent) and motor trades (-1.9 per cent).

The sectors with the largest month-on-month volume increases were “other retail sales” (11.6 per cent), food beverages and tobacco (1.9 per cent) and bars (1.3 per cent).

In terms of the value of retail sales, there was an annual increase of 0.9 per cent when compared with March 2016. However, when compared with February 2017, the value was 0.8 per cent lower.

Excluding motor trades, there was an annual increase of 3.5 per cent in the value, and a monthly increase of 0.3 per cent.

‘Strong recovery’

In a note, Davy said the data shows that the “strong recovery” in Irish consumer spending has continued in early 2017.

“Given that employment and wages are both growing by close to 3 per cent, household incomes are rising by at least 5 per cent which, coupled with CPI inflation at 0.7 per cent, means that real incomes are expanding rapidly,” it said.

“We expect total consumer spending to grow by at least 3 per cent in real terms in 2017.”

Davy also said that sterling’s depreciation was helping Irish consumer spending. “Whereas sterling’s depreciation is clearly hurting UK consumers, the opposite is happening in Ireland,” it said.

“Close to one-third of Irish consumer goods are imported from the UK. Hence, sterling’s depreciation has contributed to a 2.6 per cent annual decline in Irish retail prices – helping households’ real incomes.

“Sterling’s weakness has depressed Irish retail motor trades, down 4.5 per cent on the year. This has also depressed the aggregate retail sales figures, flat in March and up just 3 per cent on the year.”