Retail Ireland Monitor Q1, 2019
Improving sentiment leads to strong start to 2019
We have seen an immediate bounce in retail sales on the back of this news in what has been a strong start to the year for the sector. All major retail categories bar one returned strong single digit, and in some cases double digit, growth rates in the year to the end of the first quarter. Also noteworthy is the fact that the persistent gap between sales value growth and that of sales volumes has continued to close in the first quarter of 2019, albeit slowly.
There is no doubt that Irish consumers continue to survive on a diet of discounted prices and wide scale promotional activity, and against that backdrop retail prices have continued to fall. However, many in the trade have in recent times begun to ask the question, how long can this be sustained. All the while input costs in areas such as labour, insurance, rents and rates continue to rise. While this is a concern that we here in Retail Ireland have been flagging for 12 months or so, the time will come where something has to give.
The Monitor also shows that while sales are up across almost all categories of retail, the ever-present trends of discounting and the continuing shift to online are also evident, particularly in retail categories such as computers and electrical goods and department stores.