Retail sales show consumer recovery taking hold

Shoppers in Grafton Street, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney

Retail sales in August were far above pre-Covid levels as consumers hit the shops in the first full month of reopening, according to the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

Businesses reported sales volumes were 14.8pc higher than in August 2019 and 3.5pc up on the previous month, suggesting a consumer-led recovery is taking hold in the domestic economy.

Every sector apart from bars and books, newspapers and stationery achieved growth over the two-year period. However, on a month-to-month basis those two sectors had the biggest sales increases.

Sales in grocery stores continued their decline, with a 3.7pc monthly drop, as spending patterns continued to shift away from lockdown norms.

The CSO data supports similar conclusions by market research firm Kantar which has shown grocery sales have been on a downward trajectory since spring.

Online retail sales to Irish companies have settled at a consistent level of just below 5pc of total sales. In the initial months of the pandemic, online shopping approached 15pc of all retail sales but gradually declined over 2020.