retaiil news

Q1 retail sales show full effects of the ‘Beast from the East’

New research into retail sales in the first part the year have revealed the full extent of the disruption caused by March’s ‘Beast from the East’ on the retail industry.

The latest figures from the retail representative group, Retail Excellence Ireland (REI), show that despite the improving economy, like-for-like sales were down 1.2 per cent in March, and a fifth of 1 per cent overall in the first quarter compared to the year previous. This decline comes despite the improving economy and a comparative boost to first-quarter sales by Easter falling in March, compared to April in 1017.

REI’s chief executive, David Fitzsimons, said the bad weather negatively impacted most on the 19 retail sectors examined in its first-quarter Productivity Review, which it produces in association with research firm GfK and Grant Thornton. It collates electronic sales data directly from the tills of retailers. “What is very clear is that the Irish retail industry is in a significant state of flux,” he said.

In terms of specific sectors, garden centres performed the worst, with sales down 15.8% in the first three months of the year when compared to 2017- for obvious weather-related reasons. IT and computing products saw a 17 per cent decline but were saved from a further fall by the early Easter period. IT sales, including computers and tablets, have dropped off hugely. In volume terms they were down 11% and 17 per cent in value terms Jewellery sales were down for all three months in the quarter, as were lingerie, ladieswear and menswear sales.

Among the best performing sectors were health stores (up 4%), small home appliances (up 6%) and furniture and flooring (up 3.6 % over the quarter). Grocery sales were up 1.1% which was “spurred on by Easter trading”, said Mr Fitzsimons. The rate of monthly growth in the sector actually increased in March, which may well have been partly due to bread sales.

black friday

Black Friday boosts retail sales by 2.6% in November

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.