Retailers hoping to score off back of Euro finals
CONSUMERS are keeping a tight hold on their wallets as retail sales slumped by 1.5pc over the last month.
But retailers are now pinning their hopes on a perfect storm of the current glorious weather, the upcoming Euro 2012 Championships and even a Yes vote in Thursday's referendum to boost sales this month and for the summer ahead.
Only a few areas saw a marginal increase in volume of sales in April -- fuel and electrical goods. However, big-ticket items such as cars were down 2.6pc, while home improvements continue to wane.
Hardware, paint and glass sales recorded the largest slump, down 6.2pc. Meanwhile, sales of clothing and footwear were down 2.9pc.
Retailers blamed April's poor weather for keeping shoppers away.
It comes after sales figures were marginally up in March.
However, the latest figures from the Central Statistics Office show that overall sales are now down 2.7pc from this time last year.
Some of the biggest annual drops are in home improvements, which are down by almost 18pc from a year ago, while it has also been a disastrous year for department stores as sales fell 10pc.
Consumers are also cutting back on their grocery shopping, with sales down by just over 3pc.
Stephen Lynam, director of Retail Ireland which is part of employers' group IBEC, said: "These figures are very disappointing, but not surprising. Figures are down across almost every category, except for electrical goods which may be benefiting from consumers buying new television sets in time for the European Championships.
"The cold weather last month did nothing for sales of hardware, including garden furniture and equipment. The drop in clothing and footwear indicates people held off on purchasing new summer outfits," he added.
David Fitzsimons, chief executive of Retail Excellence Ireland, which represents 9,500 stores, said it was clear consumer sentiment is "still bouncing along the bottom".
Meanwhile, Mark Fielding, chief executive of business lobby group ISME, said consumer sentiment is weak and continues to look uncertain.
"More than three-quarters of retailers are stating that the very viability of their business is under threat, with a third of them expecting to reduce staff numbers in the next year," he warned.