Sunday 19 November 2017

Consumers splurge on household goods as retail sales surge

The latest figures show sales rose by 2.2pc in the month of January alone (Stock picture)
The latest figures show sales rose by 2.2pc in the month of January alone (Stock picture)
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

Sales of goods in shops bounced back for January - a reversal of what was happening up to December.

The rise is despite the fall in the value of Sterling that is making online sites in Britain better value than goods in shops here.

Central Statistics Office figures show retail sales were up almost 5pc in the year to January.

The strong activity at shops' tills comes despite a disappointing December for retailers, as people shopped online in increasing numbers in the run-up to Christmas.

Previous surveys had shown evidence of people going online to benefit from the weakness of Sterling following the Brexit vote, and also shopping across the Border.

The latest figures show sales rose by 2.2pc in the month of January alone. They were up due to demand from householders for electrical goods, hardware, paints, glass and items sold in department stores. On the flip side, there was a fall in the volume of sales of pharmaceuticals, medical items and cosmetics.

When sales of the volatile motor trade are excluded, there was a monthly increase of 1.5pc in sales in January, and 6.1pc in the previous year.

Retail Ireland director Thomas Burke said that given the disappointing trading levels in usually busy December, it was encouraging to see 2017 start so strongly.

"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," he said.

However, he sounded a note of caution when assessing the hopes for the sector over the coming year, due to Brexit.

Director of research at Savills John McCartney said the rebound was not unexpected given the surge in job creation.

"While sentiment clearly went through a bit of a soft patch in the second half of last year - probably due to global and domestic political uncertainty - jobs growth continued to power ahead," he said.

Dr McCartney's analysis shows that employment is a much more powerful leading indicator of what actually happens in the retail sector than many of the commonly referenced measures such as sentiment and even incomes growth.

Economist with Merrion Stockbrokers Alan McQuaid said retail sales continued to be erratic on a monthly basis, but that the underlying trend was positive. He expected sales to be up between 4pc and 5pc this year.

Irish Independent

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