CONSUMERS are buying more but spending less. The latest retail sales figures show a 1pc rise in sales, but a 0.5pc drop in spending this year.
New data from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show a shift in the way consumers are shopping as they try to cope with austerity.
The CSO's retail sales index shows that the amount we bought increased – but we're spending less than we were a year ago as stores cut prices in order to woo customers.
The CSO figures show that consumers spent 4.5pc more on food, beverages and tobacco in the past year, but 5.1pc less on electrical goods.
The volume of furniture sales slumped by 6.7pc in September but has still grown by 4.1pc over the year. Car sales are up 9.4pc in the year and rose slightly in September.
Meanwhile, new grocery market data from analysts Kantar Worldpanel reveals that consumers are stocking up more in a bid to save money.
It found that grocery sales were up 0.6pc in the 12 weeks to mid-October, compared with the same time last year – although this was the slowest growth seen since June.
Money-off vouchers in its 'Shop and Save' campaign helped Dunnes Stores boost sales by 5pc, with its market share up from 22pc to 23pc as a result, said David Berry, Kantar Worldpanel's commercial director.
He explained: "Shoppers have switched from the 'little and often' approach to stocking up, making fewer trips, but purchasing more items per shop."
Tesco is under pressure, with sales down 6.5pc and market share falling from 28.6pc last year to 26.6pc. It has now launched its 'Price Promise' campaign, giving consumers vouchers if its prices exceed those of Aldi or Lidl.
Aldi sales grew by 24pc and now has 7.4pc of the market, while Lidl is up over 10pc to 7.2pc of the market.
Davy Stockbrokers said the latest figures showed continued evidence of a bounce back in retail sales, with a 4pc rise over the past three months – the largest quarterly expansion in seven years.
Two Irish retail chains, Golden Discs and Kilkenny, opened up new outlets in Co Kildare this week, creating 20 new jobs at the Whitewater shopping centre in Newbridge.
However, IBEC's Retail Ireland said the figures showed continuing difficulties in the retail sector. It said that when cars and bars are excluded, money spent in the shops is down 1.7pc compared with last September.
IBEC's director Stephen Lynam said there had been a fall in sales for supermarkets, department stores, pharmacies, furniture stores, petrol stations and electrical outlets, but increases for bookshops, clothing stores and hardware shops.
He added: "Undoubtedly, speculation about the impact of the Budget led to people spending less in September.
"We hope that with the Budget now out of the way and most pay packets left relatively unchanged, growth in consumer spending will resume."