IT HAS been a difficult week for business and economic news. On Thursday we learned that Ireland's economy had tipped back into what amounts to 'recession' with record falls in exports and in domestic demand. Yesterday we got information on retail sales which was only middling at best. True, the volume of sales held its own last month with a fractional 0.1pc rise when compared to the month of April. But the full-year figures revealed a fall of 0.7pc and the importance of car sales definitely showed here.
Once the motor sector was excluded from the sales data, the overall yearly figure remained unchanged and the month of May showed a 1.4pc increase.
During May, hardware sales performed best with volumes rising by 14pc. The food and drink sector showed a 5.2pc rise but the motor trade sales volumes fell by 5.5pc.
What is difficult to judge here is the impact of the change in the system of vehicle registration with new number plates for the first time this year being issued twice in a 12-month period. We must wait and see how motor sales go this summer before we get a clear idea of how the trade is doing overall.
As the economic week in Ireland closed on a rather sombre note it is very important not to pay too much attention to the doomsayers who glory in what could be a setback to economic recovery. We must also hope that the Government keeps listening to more upbeat advice and gives serious consideration to the prospect of prudently stimulating the economy.
We must continue to push the case of Ireland's hard-working people who have done so much more with so much less over the past five years. We cannot continue on a diet of service cutbacks and tax hikes – we need tangible signs of hope.