Retail sales rise slightly in February

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Caoimhe Gordon

Retail sales rose again in February as Irish shoppers bought slightly more last month.

The volume of retail sales rose by 0.7pc in February compared with January, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) reported.

Last month, sales volumes were also up 3.6pc compared with February 2022.

Volume sales have now risen in the first two months of the year, a welcome boost to retailers.

This comes after a 1.4pc decline last November, followed by flat sales over December, traditionally the busiest time for the sector.

As well as slightly higher volumes, the value of sales was also on the rise in February, with the value 1.8pc higher last month compared with January.

In the first month of the year, the value of sales dipped below December levels despite an increase in purchases, with many consumers looking to reduce costs.

Overall, the value of retail sales was 11.1pc higher in February than in the same month a year ago as shoppers faced a barrage of price hikes following inflationary pressures.

Grocery price inflation has also risen to a record high of 16.4pc in the 12 weeks to February 23, according to data from research group Kantar.

This contributed an extra €113.56 to each shopper’s grocery bill in February compared with the same period last year.

According to the CSO, the largest monthly volume increase in February was from an increase in pub sales, which rose by 4.7pc.

Bar sales were up by 12.8pc compared with February 2022, the data showed.

However, sales at the pub remain below pre-pandemic levels, according to CSO data.

Sales were down 15.2pc compared with February 2020, the month before the first lockdowns were introduced.

Hardware sales increased by 2.5pc across the month, while motor trades reported a sales increase of 1.7pc.

On an annual basis, fuel sales rose 4.1pc, while new clothing purchases rose by 6pc.

Furniture sales plummeted 11.4pc last month after the post-Christmas sales boost in January.

The proportion of sales transacted online also dipped to 5.3pc last month from 5.4pc in January.

It also fell from 11.8pc in February 2021, reflecting the return of consumers to stores following pandemic lockdowns.

The CSO also reported last month that consumer prices rose by 8.5pc between February 2022 and February 2023.

This marks an increase from 7.8pc reported the month prior.