New figures released today by Retail Excellence Ireland (REI) have shown the Irish retail sector is still in decline.
According to the figures, which show results from the final quarter of last year, retail sales have entered a 35th consecutive month of decline.
REI, which represents the retail industry, said that Q4 2010 provided a continuation of the negative growth trend with growing concern regarding 'untenable rent and labour costs which pertain.'
It said one positive which can be drawn from the period is the fact that the rate of decline has modified to like for like of -3.63pc and the level of market volatility continues to decline.
REI said the retail industry 'nervously awaits' the full impact of Budget 2011 which will have a negative impact on consumer sentiment and real disposable income.
"Budget 2011 has the potential to reverse the recent move towards trading parity and postpone recovery for some time," it said.
"While Budget 2011 will cause significant distress, an early election followed by real policy change will create an environment of optimism."
"Additionally, excise duty increases planned in the UK market in March will further improve ROI price competitiveness."
Footwear enjoyed a lift of 3.22pc against Q4 2009 and a continuation in the sectors growth trend having recorded a sales increase of 3.80pc in September 2010.
REI added that there was an increased demand for functional footwear over the period.
"Given the adverse weather conditions experienced throughout the country in the latter part of 2010, these figures indicate that the Irish consumer is shopping for function rather than fashion," it said.
Ladies fashion traded poorly when compared with other sectors and continues to suffer following declines of -8.18pc, -10.32pc and -7.80pc recorded in October, November and December respectively.
The gift and homeware sector experienced a modest rate of decline of -2.94pc in September and -2.85pc in October which indicated that the sector was trading towards parity.