Irish Economy
Irish retail sales volume up 0.2% in November 2014
By Michael Hennigan, Finfacts founder and editor
Jan 8, 2015 - 2:17 PM

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The  volume of Irish retail sales (i.e. excluding price effects) increased by 0.2% in November 2014 when compared with October 2014 and there was an increase of 4.7% in the annual figure. If Motor Trades are excluded, there was an increase of 0.1% in the volume of retail sales in November 2014 when compared with October 2014 and there was an increase of 3.6% in the annual figure.

The sectors with the largest month on month volume increases were Electrical Goods (+2.6%), Clothing, Footwear & Textiles (+2.2%) and Department Stores (+1.6%). The sectors with the largest monthly decreases were Books, Newspapers and Stationary (-2.3%), Motor Trades (-1.3%) and Fuel (-1.3%).

There was a fall of 0.2% in the value of retail sales in November 2014 when compared with October 2014 and there was an annual increase of 2.2% when compared with November 2013. If Motor Trades are excluded, there was a monthly decrease of 0.3% in the value of retail sales and an annual increase of 1.2%.

Dermot O'Leary, chief economist at Goodbody says that the American import of "Black Friday" (November 28), the shopping day after Thanksgiving Day, resulted in sales being deferred from the sample period up to November 22.  There were reports of rises in trade of 30 to 40% compared with a  normal Friday following marketing promotions. However spending for Christmas could have well been brought forward from December rather than delayed from prior to November 22.

[Spending growth in November likely understated: Retail sales continued their modest recovery in November, with core sales growing by 0.1% mom and by 3.6% yoy (+4.4% yoy in October). However, it is worth noting that the data only relate to the four-week period to 22nd November 2014 and thus exclude the “Black Friday” shopping period. This has been reported as a busy selling season for retailers in 2014, as it is a phenomenon that is relatively new to Irish shoppers. In this regard, the data probably understate the pre-Christmas shopping trends in November.

Increased confidence fuelled car sales in 2014: Strong sales of motor vehicles have buoyed total sales throughout the year and November is no different. With car sales up by 12% yoy, total retail sales grew by 4.7% yoy in November. The growth in big-ticket items is a reflection of both improved consumer sentiment and increased availability of credit.

Deflationary trends continue on the High Street: Deflation continues to be very much evident in the retail sector, with prices falling by 2.3% yoy in November, similar to the price falls last seen in 2010. Ten of the twelve CSO categories are seeing prices fall with only Books & stationary and Bar sales experiencing price increases. Irish consumers remain very price conscious, with categories with the biggest volume increases (Furniture & lighting, Other & Electrical goods) also those with the biggest price cuts (in excess of 5% yoy).

Housing market recovery is buoying certain categories: Due to the volatility of the monthly data, it is more instructive to look at the trends over a longer time period. In this regard, sales volumes grew by 5% yoy in the three months to November 2014, with core sales up 4% yoy. Both are respectable performances. The most impressive growth is being seen in “Furniture and lighting” (+22% yoy). Strong growth is also being seen in “electrical goods” (+7% yoy) and “Hardware, paints and glass” (+5% yoy). All of these are a reflection of the ongoing improvement in the housing market. “Books, newspapers and stationary” (-4%) were the worst performing (an ongoing theme), followed by “Food, beverages and tobacco” (-3% yoy).

Slightly improved spending growth expected in 2015: In the most recent National Accounts for Q3 2014, we were disappointed with the flat outturn for consumer spending overall. While the sale of goods (measured by the retail sales data) grew satisfactorily in 2014, services spending continued to disappoint. While a rapid expansion in consumer spending can be ruled out, we expect spending growth to improve in 2015 on the back of higher employment, modest wage growth and a falling tax burden.]

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