Saturday 21 September 2019

Irish car sales slump drives retail activity 4.3pc lower

Upbeat: Seamus Coffey, chairman of the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council, struck a positive tone regarding the retail sales data
Upbeat: Seamus Coffey, chairman of the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council, struck a positive tone regarding the retail sales data

Shawn Pogatchnik

An unseasonal slump in new car purchases drove Ireland's retail sales sharply lower last month, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) reported yesterday.

Sales declined by 4.3pc in both value and volume terms versus June levels, chiefly because many Irish car hunters were opting to buy cheap used UK imports on the back of the British pound's Brexit-fuelled weakness.

Irish car dealers recorded a 13pc sales slump by volume in July, despite the arrival of 192 plates, which normally would be expected to spur increased sales of new vehicles.

Pubs and bars also experienced a 6.4pc drop-off in the volume and value of beverage sales.

However, excluding the exceptionally weak performance of the motor trade, Irish retail sales overall grew last month, rising 1.9pc in volume and 1.3pc in value versus June.

Supermarkets and other non-specialised stores led the growth table, with sales up 5.7pc by volume and 5.4pc by value. Department stores recorded more muted gains, of 1.9pc and 1.2pc, respectively.

Sales of pharmaceutical, medical and cosmetic articles were 4.7pc higher by volume and 4pc by value, while sales of hardware, paint and glass rose by 2.5pc and 3.5pc, respectively.

The volume of sales in Ireland was 4.4pc lower than a year ago, again chiefly because of the decline in new car sales.

Excluding the motor trade, retail sales have risen by 4.2pc over the past 12 months.

University College Cork (UCC)economics lecturer Seamus Coffey, the chairman of the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council, called the underlying non-motor trade figures for Ireland "pretty strong".

He said the fact that the volume of Irish sales was growing more quickly than sales value, or turnover, "reflects the goods price deflation that Ireland has been experiencing for some time".

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