The volume of retail sales increased by 2.6% in November on a monthly basis, with retail sales up 6.8% on an annual basis, according to the latest figures released by the Central Statistics Office. The figures, which were stronger than expected, come on the back of strong Black Friday sales during the month. Retailers reported their strongest ever ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Cyber Monday’ sales on the 24th and 27th of the month.

Electrical goods performed particularly strong in the period with sales seeing a 14.5% increase from the previous month. Department stores sales increased by 6.7% while “other” retail sales – which include the likes of carpets, toys, flowers, plants, pets animals and pet food – increased by 5.7%.

There is some debate amongst analysts as to whether the U.S inspired Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotional events actually increase sales and encourage shoppers to make additional purchases or just act as an incentive for shoppers to do their Christmas shopping early. “The question remains whether spending has merely been brought forward from the traditional December season to November,” Davy analyst David McNamara said, noting industry surveys suggested that December spending was disappointing for Irish retailers.According to Retail Ireland, early indications show that December sales will be on par with 2016. However, he acknowledged that Irish consumer spending “will be higher once again in Q4 as a recovering labour market and wage growth drive demand”.

Merrion economist Alan McQuaid said that while retail sales remain erratic on a monthly basis and are still swinging back and forth, the underlying trend is positive. “While most attention has been on new car sales in the past couple of years, which were lower in 2017 than 2016, personal spending in other areas has picked up over the same period and is becoming more broad-based,” the economist noted.