Strong January retail sales point to firm growth trajectory

Monday, 29 February 2016
Retail Ireland, the Ibec group that represents the retail sector, today welcomed the strong retail sales in January as evidenced by numbers released by the CSO this morning. Retail sales values, excluding bars and car sales, increased by 3.9% in the year to the end of January pointing to a strong performance over the traditional post Christmas January sales period.

There was also strong volume growth across the retail sector in January with sales volumes increasing 0.5% in the month and by 6.1% in the year to the end of January 2016. Among the best performing categories were furniture and lighting, clothing and footwear and department stores.

Retail Ireland Director Thomas Burke said: “Given the busy trading period in the run up to Christmas and the post-holiday sales, retailers sometimes experience lower sales in January. However, the numbers published this morning show that the sector performed strongly over the month of January with the traditional post Christmas sales period meeting earlier expectations. What is most encouraging is that all retail categories outperformed the same period in 2015 apart from the fuel category which is still grappling with the impact of a fluctuating Euro.”

However, Mr Burke sounded a note of caution when assessing the hopes for the sector over the coming year. "While it is clear that the retail sector is now on a firm growth trajectory, the sustainability of this growth will be threatened should input costs not be contained. Evidence of a growth in rents of over 15% in certain parts of the country, disproportionate local authority commercial rates and unrealistic wage demands have the potential to derail this recent positive growth in the sector and must be contained in order to avoid a return to a declining market. Such a scenario would ultimately be bad news for the economy as a whole and will limit the ability of the sector to grow numbers employed," concluded Mr Burke.