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News : Irish Economy Last Updated: May 29, 2014 - 7:43 AM

Irish Economy 2014: Volume of retail sales fell by 0.9% in April
By Finfacts Team
May 28, 2014 - 11:29 AM

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Irish Economy 2014:  The  volume of retail sales (i.e. excluding price effects) fell by 0.9% in April 2014 when compared with March 2014 and there was an increase of 6.8% in the annual figure. (See Table 1). If Motor Trades are excluded there was an increase of 1.6% in the volume of retail sales in April 2014 when compared with March 2014 and there was an increase of 4.6% in the annual figure.

The CSO reported that sectors with the largest month on month volume increases were Furniture and Lighting (+6.4%), Hardware, Paints & Glass (+3.3%) and Food beverages & Tobacco (+2.4%). The sectors with the largest monthly decreases were Motor Trades (-3.8%), Pharmaceuticals Medical & Cosmetic Articles (-2.2%) and Books, Newspapers and Stationery (-1.5%). 

There was a fall of 0.8% in the value of retail sales in April 2014 when compared with March 2014 and there was an annual increase of 4.4% when compared with April 2013. If Motor Trades are excluded, there was a monthly increase of 1.5% in the value of retail sales and an annual increase of 2.8%.

Stephen Lynam, Retail Ireland director, said: "There was an increase in April in the sales in supermarkets and department stores and in the sale of  fuel, clothing, furniture and hardware. The continued double digit growth in furniture and lighting sales is indicative of a stronger property market. April's increase of over 20% is hugely welcome by a sector of retail that has had a torrid few years.

"There were, however, falls in sales in specialised food shops like butchers and bakers, and in book stores, highlighting continued difficulties for those sectors.

"While the figures for the first quarter of 2014 were disappointing, April's numbers are much stronger. Retail Ireland is forecasting growth in consumer spending of around 2% this year and today's data supports this. 

"Growth in retail is key to ensuring that the economic recovery is jobs-rich. One of the biggest problems facing retailers is the high levels of local authority rates and charges. With new councillors elected and preparing to get to work, it is vital that top of their agenda is reducing this burden on struggling retailers in towns and cities around the country."

Conall Mac Coille, chief economist at Davy, commented - - "Q1 was marked by the strength of the motor trade, +27.7% in the year to March, which offset weaker growth in other retail groups. However, motor sales dipped sharply in April, down 3.8% month-on-month (mom), offsetting a recovery in other groups. Retail sales fell 0.9% on April, a 6.8% year-on-year (yoy) rise. Excluding motor trades, sales were up 1.6% mom and 4.6% yoy.

This dip in motor trades was expected given the new seasonality of car sales. Following the New Year bounce, sales will now steadily decline until the ‘142’ registration spike in July. Nonetheless, the first half of 2014 looks set to be the best start to the year for car sales since 2008.

While households are now feeling financially confident enough to purchase big ticket items like cars, other discretionary purchases were a good deal weaker in Q1. However, in April sectors such as Furniture & Lighting (+6.4% mom), Hardware (+3.3%) and Food & Beverages (2.4%) all added to the growth in volumes. We suspect that some of these hefty rises are due to the late timing of Easter, reflected in strong annual growth in many sectors, so the May data may give a better steer on the underlying strength of retail sales in Q2."

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