| 6.9°C Dublin

Modest rise for retailers

RETAIL sales, excluding the motor trade, recorded a slight monthly increase in January and it is anticipated that consumer confidence is rising.

For the year to the end of January last, retail sales volumes were down by 4.8pc, or 4.7pc if car sales are excluded.

But the figures continued to be heavily skewed by motor trades and key sales showed the consumer was on firmer footing in 2010. If motor trades were excluded, the monthly change was an increase of 0.6pc.

In December there was a 0.4pc drop in retail sales volumes. Including cars, sales fell 17pc in the month, down 4.8pc from a year earlier.

Non-specialised stores, which includes supermarkets, showed an annual increase of 0.6pc.

Business group Ibec said the figures were "welcome indications of stabilisation in the economy".

Retail Ireland said the latest monthly retail sales figures showed the extent of the negative trading environment faced by Irish retailers. It called for the Government to ensure that upward only rent reviews were abolished.

"Only when we bring down our costs to those of other European countries will we avoid the current regrettable situation where retailers are forced to close shops and reduce staffing levels," the group said.

The increase in retail sales was "very modest" and suggested that "consumer spending trends have yet to bottom in the Irish economy," said Dermot O'Leary, chief economist at Goodbody Stockbrokers in Dublin.