Booming car sales help to lift the retail sector
Strong car sales in January helped lift the overall volume of retail sales figures, with a headline expansion of 4.1pc in the month.
Consumer spending, a key measure of economic vitality, was up more than 10pc in January, compared to a year earlier.
Car sales were particularly robust in the opening month of the year, helped by the switch to '16 registration numbers.
Stripping out cars, retail sales were up 6.4pc in January from the same time last year.
"Although retail sales remain erratic on a monthly basis, the underlying trend is positive," said Alan McQuaid of Merrion Stockbrokers.
"While most attention was on cars last year and will be again in 2016, personal spending in other areas is picking up too and is becoming more broad-based. This can only be good news for retailers and employment prospects in the sector."
After cars, it was electronics, clothes and department stores which saw the biggest gains.
Spending may be growing strongly because low interest rates for savers, coupled with falling prices, have encouraged consumers to spend, rather than save, Mr McQuaid said.
Consumer confidence hit a 15-year high in January and this has been reflected in stronger retail spending, according to Mr McQuaid.
That points to a rise in disposable incomes, despite the widespread rubbishing of Fine Gael's 'Keep the recovery going' election slogan.
However, the figures as published by the Central Statistics Office don't provide a regional or county-by-county breakdown of where spending is happening.
There was an increase of 6pc in the value of retail sales in January 2016, compared with December 2015.
There was an annual increase of 8.9pc when compared with January 2015, according to the CSO. The figures were boosted by tourist spending due to the weakness of the euro.