Thursday 23 November 2017

We're back shopping - but only if price right

RETAIL sales have soared by 8.8pc in the last year as consumers buy more big-ticket items such as cars, furniture and electrical goods.
RETAIL sales have soared by 8.8pc in the last year as consumers buy more big-ticket items such as cars, furniture and electrical goods.
Aideen Sheehan

Aideen Sheehan

Retail sales have soared by 8.8pc in the last year as consumers buy more big-ticket items such as cars, furniture and electrical goods.

But new Central Statistics Office figures also show that people are only buying if the price is right.

The overall volume of sales - ie. the amount of things people buy - was up by 8.8pc in January compared with a year ago, though the amount spent on these goods rose by just 5.5pc.

This means retailers still had to cut prices to tempt consumers to buy.

Motor trade sales rose 17.8pc, while furniture sales went up by 19.8pc and electrical goods went up 11.7pc.

But when you exclude cars from the picture, the volume of sales rose by a more modest 4.8pc while their value was up a mere 0.9pc.

Month-on-month retail sales rose by 3.3pc and their value was up 2.9pc, again mostly down to rising car, furniture and lighting sales.

However, sales of food, beverages and tobacco fell by 6.3pc compared to December, while pharmaceutical and department store sales also fell.

The new data underline the fact that retailers are still having to offer deep discounts to persuade shoppers to buy, said Retail Excellence Ireland, which represents stores.

"While the volume is up significantly year on year, the fact that value is not tracking volume is disappointing and shows once again that many parts of the country are still struggling," said its deputy chief Sean Murphy.

"These figures show that we cannot afford to be complacent. The domestic economy is slowly recuperating but not at the rates and levels that we would all like," he said.

The Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association said the new figures showed prices were still under pressure, meaning a stimulus was needed to help the retail sector recover.

The Government should reinstated the reduced PRSI rate of 4.25pc for employees in order to boost employment in the sector, said ISME chief executive Mark Fielding. This lower rate of PRSI at half its current level was introduced between 2011 and 2013 as a short-term measure.

Mr Fielding said that survey results showed that while consumers were more confident about the future, this was not yet feeding through to their spending.

Retail sales grew by 6.4pc in 2014 and were up 4.1pc in value.

Irish Independent

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