Business Irish

Tuesday 11 December 2018

Sales of furniture boost retail figures

Children's wear sector is struggling

Deputy ceo of REI, Lorraine Higgins (pictured), said that
Deputy ceo of REI, Lorraine Higgins (pictured), said that "stability has finally returned to the Irish retail industry after inconsistent sales patterns recorded by our member retailers earlier in 2017".
Samantha McCaughren

Samantha McCaughren

Retail sales grew almost 2pc in the third-quarter of the year, boosted by furniture, garden products and large appliances as consumers invested in their homes.

New figures from members of Retail Excellence Ireland (REI) show that while some categories continued to feel pressure, most categories are enjoying some level of growth.

Furniture and flooring, garden centres and IT/computing were all up by over 9pc, while sales of major home appliances were up by 8.1pc.

The footwear, pharmacy and health store categories all saw growth of between 1pc and 3pc, while grocery was up 0.74pc, according to REI members.

However, sectors failing to enjoy increased consumer spending included children's wear (down 3.65pc), small home appliances (down 3.1pc) and jewellery (down 1pc).

Deputy ceo of REI, Lorraine Higgins, said that "stability has finally returned to the Irish retail industry after inconsistent sales patterns recorded by our member retailers earlier in 2017".

The Grant Thornton Retail Excellence Q3 2017 Retail Productivity Reviews indicated that "Irish retail is finally starting to recover lost ground", she said.

"Furniture and flooring and large home appliances had a very robust quarter," said Higgins.

"The new construction measures introduced in Budget 2018 will serve only to improve these performances in future reports.

"However, what is noticeable in this set of results is the widening trading disparity in each sector, with some operators trading significantly up whilst others have more muted increases.

"Overall, the Irish retail industry has demonstrated its resilience in the face of external challenges like Brexit, sterling devaluation and the migration to online spend. With full employment within touching distance and measures implemented in Budget 2018 which will increase consumer spend the key to improving sales and thus exchequer returns is to ensure improved supports for omni-channel retailers," Higgins added.

Damian Gleeson, a partner at Grant Thornton, said: "There is a significantly improved level of discretionary consumer spend. Effectively meaning that for the first time in many years there is finally cash in people's pockets after paying for necessities.

"It must be said that the additional spend is still constricted to centres of population, with rural areas lagging behind and while the housing market is improving it is still not fully functioning. With a glass half-full perspective this means that there is still plenty of room for improvement."

Colm Mallon - client insight director at GfK, which analyses the sales of electrical goods - said: "For the total electrical market, quarter three was a positive one, showing growth of 4pc against Q3 last year."

However, he warned that heavy discounting lay ahead for retailers. "Quarter four, with promotions for Black Friday and Christmas, will ultimately determine how 2017 is viewed, but most likely it will be flat at best."

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