Retail Ireland Monitor Q2 2019
Retail sales steady, but lacking in sparkle
As summer begins to slip into the rear view mirror and thoughts of holidays and summer camps fade, back to school season comes into view and with it a chance to take stock of what has been a mixed year thus far for the retail sector. While, fortunately, there were no major weather events so far this year, it was the nonappearance of any meaningful warm spell of weather that has been the major influencer of retail sales so far this year. A relatively wet and below par summer in comparison to last year’s balmy weather has kept sales in the sector muted, but steady. Retailers will still hope that an Indian summer can bring a late bounce to sales in early September.
The other major influencer of retail sales in the first half of 2019 has been Brexit, and most particularly the influence of Brexit related coverage on consumer sentiment. While there was some respite for consumers from the almost daily news reports on Brexit over the summer following an extension to the Article 50 process that was agreed in April, the general consensus is that we are now facing into another period of Brexit fever over the coming weeks. Many will have found the recent respite from Brexit coverage to be a relief; as media reports on impending Brexit difficulties reached saturation point during February and March.
It is very clear that this sense of Brexit related anxiety was also influencing consumer behaviour in the lead up to the April deadline, with consumer sentiment softening significantly as the deadline approached. It is also clear from the CSO retail sales data that the industry received a bit of a bounce in the immediate aftermath of the extension as consumer sentiment rebounded somewhat.