Retail Ireland, the Ibec group that represents the retail sector, today said that new CSO retail sales figures for November highlight a shift in pre Christmas consumer spending patterns. It would appear that consumers, driven in part by intense promotional activity around the Black Friday and Cyber Monday periods, are now making an increasing proportion of their Christmas purchases earlier in the festive shopping season. The figures showed the total value of retail sales (excluding sales of cars and sales in bars) rising by 1.9% when compared to November of 2015, with the volume of sales up by 5.1% over the same period.
Retail Ireland Director Thomas Burke said: “While encouraging, the growth in retail sales in November is further evidence of the increasing importance of the early festive shopping period to Irish retailers. Traditionally the Christmas shopping season would have begun in earnest in early December, however an increasing proportion of Irish consumers now make a significant number of their Christmas purchases in November in order to take advantage of the deep discounts available through promotional activity around Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This is particularly evident in categories such as electronics, furniture and cosmetics where a lot of the promotional activity is concentrated."
"What is also evident from today's numbers is the depth of discounting in the market at present, as sales volume growth runs at over two and half a times sales value growth across all major retail categories. This will inevitably put pressure on retailer's margins at year end."
“Later this month we will receive confirmation of the performance of the retail sector over the crucial Christmas period. Despite the shift in spending patterns in recent years, December remains the single most important trading month for the sector and it remains to be seen if the sector can realise pre-Christmas forecasts of a 3% growth in sales when compared to Christmas 2015. These numbers will be crucial in determining the overall performance of the sector in 2016."