'Mega Monday' splurge by online shoppers
IRISH retail sales may be down but consumers here are expected to spend €257m in online purchases in the run up to Christmas -- more than their European counterparts.
Yesterday was 'Mega Monday' -- the busiest online shopping day due to people ordering in time to get delivery before Christmas -- and some 82pc of Irish shoppers were expected to spend online.
That would amount to an average of €155 each according to the research conducted by Visa Europe.
However, retailers are still hoping the decision to defer the 2pc VAT increase until January will boost Christmas sales, as new figures show shoppers are still unwilling to dip into their pockets.
Data released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) yesterday showed that the amount of money people spent in shops in October had fallen by 3.7pc on the same month last year.
Retail Excellence Ireland (REI) called it a "bleak" scenario while the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association (ISME) said the retail sector was now "hanging by a thread".
ISME chief executive Mark Fielding said that with both volume, the amount of goods sold; and value, the amount spent, down 3.8pc and 3.7pc respectively on last year, the Government needed to protect the industry.
The CSO figures illustrated the continuing decline in consumer spending.
While the amount of goods being sold seems to have stabilised with a slight increase of 0.1pc in October compared to September, this is not a significant rise and, overall, they have fallen 3.8pc over the past year.
The actual value of retail sales is down 3.7pc on this time last year.
However, with the exclusion of the motor trade, they are down 2.8pc.
Sales figures are typically calculated both with and without the car industry in order to give a truer sense of general retail figures.
The big losers, over the past year, include the motor trade (-6.9pc), department stores (-7.9pc), food, beverage and tobacco sales (-4.8pc), clothing footwear and textiles (-8pc) and books, newspapers and stationery sales (-13.6pc).
David Fitzsimons, chief executive of REI, which represents some 8,500 stores, pointed out that the continuing decline in sales had now entered its 44th consecutive month.
"The situation was bleak in all retail sectors -- from fashion to groceries to jewellery and hardware," he said.
"Retailers will be hoping that the traditional jump in sales in December will be boosted this year by the Government's decision to defer the 2pc rise in VAT until January."
Meanwhile, ISME chief executive Mark Fielding said: "It is absolutely essential that no new additional taxes, including VAT increases and excise duties, are introduced in the upcoming Budget."
"(This) would have the impact of undermining consumer confidence, further reducing demand and driving thousands of shoppers across the Border," he said.
The government was also criticised for its failure to tackle 'upward only' rent reviews which condemn many shopkeepers to high, often unaffordable rates as well as a failure to introduce the Retail Strategy Group to address various issues including wages, rates and energy costs in the sector.