Retail sector on course to achieve forecast growth

Saturday, 26 December 2015
Retail Ireland, the Ibec group that represents the retail sector, today said that it was optimistic that Christmas 2015 would meet earlier positive expectations. Key indicators published by Retail Ireland early in the month pointed to the best Christmas for retail since 2008, including a 3.5% annual rise in December sales worth €150 million. Feedback from key retailers suggests the sector is on course to hit these growth targets following strong trading during December.

In keeping with trends of recent years, the traditional New Year sales are starting earlier than ever, with a number of key retailers launching major sales just before Christmas Day and others today, St Stephens Day. Intense competition will mean consumers in search of a bargain won't have far to look.

Director of Retail Ireland Thomas Burke said: "Our members are reporting a positive performance in recent weeks. The emergence of the Black Friday phenomenon meant a slightly earlier start to the Christmas trading season this year and despite a slight drop off in footfall for certain retailers in the aftermath, due in part to some poor weather; we remain on course to meet the forecast made in late November. Early indications would also suggest that the extra day this Christmas week when compared to Christmas 2014 and a late shopping surge has helped recover some lost ground.

“We fully expect the sector to grow by 3.5% this year when compared with Christmas 2014 and some retailers are reporting even stronger growth. However, this is region dependent as Dublin and the other urban centres continue to lead the way over regional towns and villages that are not recording such a strong performance,” he said.

Particular trends highlighted by various retailers this Christmas include:
      Intense competition in the grocery sector with consumers benefiting from deep discounting on a variety of ranges as supermarkets battle for hearts, minds and footfall
      Click and collect services recording record growth as consumers opt for the convenience of shopping from home and collecting the product in store in large numbers
      Consumers still demanding value but a noticeable move up the value chain has been recorded
      Menswear, Beauty, Electronics and Accessories categories leading the way this Christmas

"After a number of very difficult years for retailers, it appears the much needed strong Christmas performance has materialised. Hopefully the coming days and the early days of the New Year will see further improvement. Competition is intense and consumers will benefit from heavy discounting as the sales period gets into full swing with prices on par with December 2001.

“With 60,000 more people at work this year, disposable income rising and increased consumer optimism about the future, we are now hopeful that this strong performance can continue into 2016,” concluded Mr Burke.