Retail Ireland warns of 'increasingly uncertain times' as monthly retail sales jump over 2pc
The volume of retail sales increased by 2.2pc in the month of January 2017, reflecting an annual increase of 4.9pc.
Not including motor trades, there was an increase of 1.5pc in the volume of retail sales in January when compared with December 2016.
According to the latest Central Statistics Office (CSO) figures, in comparison with January 2016 - excluding motor sales - retail volumes increased 6.1pc.
Electrical goods saw the most monthly volume increases at 8.9pc, closely followed by Hardware, Paints & Glass at 5.6pc and sales at Department Stores (4.7pc).
The sector with the largest month on month volume decrease was pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, down 2.8pc.
Meanwhile, the value of retail sales in January 2017 increased by 2.9pc when compared with December 2016 - an annual increase of 2.6pc.
Retail Ireland Director Thomas Burke said it is encouraging to see 2017 start so strongly in terms of activity at Irish tills “given the disappointing trading levels during the usually busy month of December".
"Post-holiday sales can sometimes fall flat after a busy pre-Christmas period but it would appear that the reverse is the case this year. What is most encouraging is that all retail categories outperformed the same period in 2016 and this should offer hope for the coming months,” he said.
However, Mr Burke sounded a note of caution when assessing the hopes for the sector over the coming year.
"Retailers are operating in increasingly uncertain times and the fluctuation in performance of the sector month-on-month clearly points to growing uncertainty amongst consumers and a rapidly changing external environment," he said.
"Furthermore, it is clear that the impact of Brexit and the growing migration of Irish consumers to foreign based online retail channels will continue to present real threats to the sector in the year ahead. This constantly changing picture makes planning ever more difficult for retailers and many continue to operate on short terms planning cycles in order to remain agile and flexible to the quickly changing trading environment."
Furthermore, the services value index increased by 2.3pc in January 2017 when compared with December 2016, an annual increase of 3.8pc.
On a monthly basis, the largest increases in January 2017 were in Wholesale and Retail Trade (up 9.9pc), Administrative and Support Service Activities (up 4.7pc) and Accommodation and Food Service Activities (up 2.3pc).
Other Service Activities (down 4.7pc), Information and Communication (down 3.8pc), Professional, Scientific and Technical Activities (down 1.2pc) and Transportation and Storage (down 0.3pc) recorded decreases in the month to January 2017.