Tills finally ringing for shops as splurge expected in sales
SHOPPERS finally loosened their purse strings a little last month -- but retailers believe most are waiting to splurge in the sales.
New figures from the Central Statistics Office for November show that retail sales rose by 1.6pc compared to the previous month.
But despite a promising start to December, sales have slowed in the last week -- and retailers say there will now be "exceptional value" in the post-Christmas sales, particularly among ladies fashion and TVs.
The trends in recent weeks include:
- Women are no longer buying trends and are instead purchasing functional fashion.
- Camera sales have imploded thanks to smartphones.
- Sales of computers are high with some stores struggling to keep up with demand for tablets.
- Sales of TVs outside of Dublin have risen as people buy new sets that will cater for the switchover to digital Saorview.
- The vast majority of sales are paid in cash or via debit card, with credit card use down dramatically.
- Sales in large town centres are down on last year.
Retail Excellence Ireland chief executive David Fitzsimons said its Christmas trading study had found that sales from December 1 to 24 are expected to be up 0.7pc on the same period last year.
He said that while the increase was less than what they had hoped for, it was still a significant development as it was the first increase noted since March 2008.
"We're a little disappointed with the figures but we're getting to the point where we're finally predicting growth so that's great," said Mr Fitzsimons.
"It may be only a temporary milestone but it's still a psychological boost for the retailers."
Many retailers record up to one third of their annual sales in the weeks before Christmas, which meant they were particularly hard hit during the snow and ice last year. That gave regional towns a boost as people were unwilling or unable to shop in larger towns or cities.
This year footfall and sales in regional towns such as Ennis and Naas are down -- but shopping centres in Cork, Galway, and on the outskirts of Dublin are doing well.
Andrew Smith, of Dublin's Chamber of Commerce, said it had been a "December of two halves" with sales this week slower than expected -- but a rush of last-minute shoppers are expected today and tomorrow.
However, an expected boost ahead of the VAT increase -- from 21pc to 23pc -- in January has not materialised.
"We think that people are just going to wait for the sales," he said. "We've also noticed that more people are doing Kris Kindle and some stores have reported that more people are buying Irish."
Figures from the CSO show sales in November were up on the previous month -- but they were down 0.8pc compared to November 2010. Sales of clothing, footwear and textiles rose by 7.2pc, while furniture and lighting increased by 4.5pc. Sales of fuel, pharmaceuticals and bar sales fell in the same month.
The CSO said the volume of retail sales rose by 1.8pc in November compared to October 2011, when motor trades are excluded.
Yesterday footfall in Dublin city centre was high. Large crowds are also expected this evening as people do last-minute present and food shopping.