Strong Q3 sales growth sparks hope for Christmas period

Friday, 9 November 2018
Retail Ireland, the Ibec group that represents the sector, today published its latest Retail Monitor. The report details that sales values grew by 3.9% in the third quarter of the year compared to the same period in 2017, giving rise to positivity as retailers approach the crucial Christmas period. The report also shows that all retail categories experienced an increase in performance during the quarter with year to date growth also showing strong growth.

Retail Ireland Director Thomas Burke stated: "2018 has been a strange year for the Irish retail sector thus far. Sales values increased across all retail categories in the third quarter of this year, with full year increases also recorded. However, while the continued upward trajectory in sales is welcome, the peaky nature of the sales patterns has made it difficult for retailers in terms of business planning and from a store operations perspective.

“With the Irish economy growing at close to 9%, the challenge now for retailers will be to carry this momentum into the key Christmas trading period and realise a greater share of the growing levels of disposable income. With wage growth running at 3% and increases in consumer disposable income of 4.4%, retailers feel they are not getting their fair share of that uplift with greater levels of spend now going towards other sectors of the economy including the hospitality industries.

“The upcoming 8-week period will make or break the year for many retailers, with some doing over 30% of their annual trade in this period. Retailers are hopeful that this positive momentum can be carried into the crucial end of year trading period.”

Key trends set out in the Retail Ireland Q3 2018 Monitor include:

Supermarkets and Convenience Stores: The long hot summer was a major boost for convenience stores but there was evidence that the extra spend across the summer led to some belt tightening in September itself. Some evidence of premium products and treats over indexing in the sales recovery, a bellwether for the stronger economy

Department Stores: Menswear and men’s shoes continue to be a key driver of growth, with contemporary brands and training shoes / sneakers performing strongly. Women’s luxury accessories also performed well. Increasing dominance of athleisure trends influenced womenswear sales, which were more subdued. In Beauty, new and emerging brands performed well. Overall online continues to grow strongly.

Fuel: Diesel continues to be the dominant fuel accounting for 74% of the total road transport fuels during the quarter. Meanwhile pump prices for Q3 2018 increased by an average of 3.5%*, with price increases of 9% on unleaded and 15% on diesel when compared with the same quarter in 2017. *Source – AA Ireland

Pharmacies: The extended warm weather saw strong seasonal healthcare sales in hay fever related areas and sun care products. Core toiletries and baby goods also performed well in the period. Beauty related categories performance recovered in the quarter after a dip in the second quarter of the year.

DIY & Hardware: Gardening related categories declined following the peaks reached over the summer, but this was adequately compensated for by positive trends in the decorative, DIY and maintenance categories. Consumers are feeling more confident to tackle home enhancement projects with this likely to keep the sector healthy in the short term.

Books, newspapers, stationery stores: Back to school was the significant driver of book and stationery sales in the quarter, but the continued migration of consumers to online retailers for schoolbook purchases and a switch in stationery purchases to non-specialist retailers both had negative impacts. There was growth in the rest of the book market, resulting in relatively flat performance in the quarter.