Sales slide 3.7pc in icy conditions
Retail sales in Ireland declined for a 34th consecutive month in December as hard-pressed consumers avoided shops in the icy run-up to Christmas.
Releasing the figures yesterday, industry group Retail Excellence Ireland (REI) chief executive David Fitzsimons warned that he expects 400 stores to close in Ireland this month alone.
He estimated that 14,000 jobs would be lost in the retail sector this year. He again called for radical action to ease rent burdens on retailers.
Stephen Mackeral, the chief executive of the Irish arm of Carphone Warehouse, said that the group was paying €130,000 a year in rent for its premises on Dublin's Grafton Street 10 years ago and that the headline rent figure for the outlet was now €435,000.
Like-for-like retail sales fell 3.7pc in December. Ladieswear was the worst performing retail sector in terms of sales, reporting an 8.64pc slide in the fourth quarter of 2010 compared to the corresponding period in 2009.
Mr Fitzsimons said that political uncertainty would probably contribute to "accelerated market decline".