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Shoppers buying more, but only if price is right

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Retailers may have reported increased sales, but figures show they were forced to drop their prices through promotions such as Black Friday in order to draw customers in.

Retailers may have reported increased sales, but figures show they were forced to drop their prices through promotions such as Black Friday in order to draw customers in.

Retailers may have reported increased sales, but figures show they were forced to drop their prices through promotions such as Black Friday in order to draw customers in.

Booming sales of cars, furniture and electronics helped boost retail sales by 4.7pc in November compared to a year earlier.

As a new consumer-sentiment index shows a more confident mood, the latest Central Statistics Office figures reveal that consumers are buying more stuff - but only if it's at the right price.

The value of our purchases rose by a much more modest 2.2pc, showing stores had to cut prices in order to persuade us to buy.

Although growing, overall retail sales are still below what they would have been back in 2005, though some individual sectors have seen growth.

Furniture sales rose by an impressive 21.6pc and motor trade sales rose by 11.8pc in November compared to the previous year - but they're still at lower levels than in 2005.

Sales of electrical goods rose by 8.4pc compared with a year earlier. As our obsession with tablet computers and the like continues this area is genuinely booming, with sales now 68pc higher than they were in the boom.

Retail Excellence Ireland said that the CSO data showed the impact of price cuts such as those for "Black Friday", when retailers slashed prices to kick-start Christmas shopping.

When car sales were excluded the volume of retail sales was up 3.6pc in November and their value by just 1.2pc, showing the impact of aggressive price discounting in November 2014, said REI deputy chief Sean Murphy.

"All of this shows that the Irish retail industry is fighting tooth and nail for consumer spend - and consumers are reaping the reward in terms of securing value," he said.

But overall sales in the first 11 months of 2011 were 6.4pc higher on average than in the same period of 2013, noted Merrion stockbrokers economist Alan McQuaid.

Stronger

"There were clear signs of stronger personal expenditure in 2014, particularly in relation to new cars, concert tickets and online internet shopping," he said.

Meanwhile, a new KBC Bank Ireland/ESRI survey shows that consumer sentiment improved slightly in December, with people taking a slightly rosier view of their future household finances, though they still had concerns about unemployment.

"The improvement in sentiment in December suggests that consumers feel the Irish economy is on a clearly improving path, but many are still not seeing this translate into an improvement in their personal circumstances," said KBC economist Austin Hughes.

Irish Independent