Retail Ireland, the Ibec group that represents the sector, welcomed the strong growth in retail sales evidenced by the May sales numbers released by the CSO today. But the group cautioned against a widening gap between sales volume growth and sales value growth, meaning that Irish retailers need to sell twice as much product than in previous years to secure a return at a time of growing input costs.
Retail Ireland Director Thomas Burke stated: "Retail sales patterns in recent months have been erratic, but one consistent feature has been the disparity between the rate of growth in sales volumes and sales values. Retail sales values, excluding bars and car sales, increased by 4% in May when compared to the same period in 2016, whereas sales volumes rose by almost twice that amount in the same period, at 7.8%.
"This is mainly due to the deep discounting which has become a feature of the Irish retail market in recent years. With prices now back at 2009 levels, consumers can avail of great value in store. But it means retailers now have to sell twice as much product than they did in previous years to secure the same return, which is significantly increasing their input costs.
"However, the positive performance by the sector in May is most welcome, and on the basis of these numbers, retailers can now have cause for real optimism that Ireland's strong economic performance of the last 12 months will finally translate into increased sales at their tills."