RETAIL sales fell again in January as cashstrapped householders continued to cut back on purchases.
Department stores were the big victims with a 15pc slump in purchases while bars also saw an 8pc dip in business, the latest Central Statistics Office figures show.
Overall the seasonally adjusted volume of retail sales fell by 1.7pc in January compared with December and they're 1.2pc lower than a year ago - while the value of these sales also fell by a similar amount.
However some sectors enjoyed a boost, with furniture and lighting sales up 6.6pc.
Fuel sales also rose 1.6pc in the month, but they're 1.3pc lower than a year ago, suggesting motorists are responding to high prices at the pumps by cutting back on journeys.
Motor trades sales are also 3.6pc down in the month and 8.8pc lower than this time last year.
Meanwhile industry analysts Nielsen reported that consumers had reverted to the major supermarket chains for their Christmas shop.
"Discounter share of trade and growth dropped below average at Christmas indicating that consumers reverted to the major retailers for the Christmas grocery shop," said Ruth Lloyd-Evans of Nielsen Retailer Services.
This may have simply been for convenience as many discounters are on the outskirts of towns, but may also have been for the increased product choice, she said.
Sales of frozen turkeys also rose by over 30pc over the Christmas period while sales of fresh turkeys fell 6pc, indicating consumers were trying to cut back.