Retail Ireland, the Ibec group that represents the sector, today welcomed the continued growth in retail sales as evidenced by the April sales numbers released by the Central Statistics Office this morning, but highlighted that the uneven nature of the performance across the retail categories reflected an uncertain future outlook amongst Irish consumers.
Buoyed by a later than normal Easter period, retail sales values, excluding bars and car sales, increased by 3.3% on the same period in 2016, building on value growth of over 3% in the first four months of 2017. There was also strong volume growth across the retail sector in April, with sales volumes increasing 6.5% when compared to 2016.
Retail Ireland Director Thomas Burke said: “The first four months of 2017 has seen strong growth in certain retail categories, and this is reflected in the headline numbers, but that positive performance is by no means consistent across all retail categories, with some retailers reporting a significant decline in trade in recent months. Strong growth in some categories is in fact masking anemic growth, and in some cases decline, in key retail categories and certain retailers are becoming increasingly anxious about weak trade levels."
Mr Burke continued: "While at a macro level sales trends remain positive, retail sales at a category level have become increasingly erratic in recent months making forecasting and business planning a difficult proposition for retailers. Peaks and troughs in trading, above and beyond the usual seasonal variation, reflect the uncertain nature of Irish consumers at present. With ongoing uncertainty over the impact of global geopolitical events such as Brexit and changed US foreign policy, along with fluctuating currency markets, retailers will likely have to continue to operate in an uncertain environment over the coming months."