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Ladies' fashion is worst-performing retail sector of 2011 so far

Figures from Retail Excellence Ireland show that like-for-like sales are down 3 per cent on last year, yet remain “robust”.

Image: Joel Tegerdine/Press Association Images

SALES OF WOMEN’S clothing were the worst-performing sector of the retail industry in the first quarter of 2011, according to new data published by Retail Excellence Ireland (REI).

Its performance review of the retail industry for January to March showed that like-for-like sales of ladieswear were down by 6.5 per cent on the same period in 2010, while menswear sales were down by 4 per cent over the quarter.

The Pharmacy sector saw sales fall by 6 per cent, which REI attributed to weakened demand and to new restrictions on the sale of codeine, while furniture and grocery sales were down by 3 per cent.

Only one sector saw an increase in sales: garden centres, which profited from the aftermath of the bad weather as people went shopping to replace plants killed by the snow.

Overall, the retail sector has now recorded its 37th consecutive month of declining sales.

REI said that the average value of a shopping transaction was now €43.39, compared to €53.48 in the same period three years ago.

REI chief executive David Fitzsimons said the fall would see more stores close their doors with the loss of further jobs, on top of the 40,000 retail jobs lost since 2008.

The most significant contributing factor to the fall in the first quarter was the introduction of the Universal Social Charge, Fitzsimons said, though shoppers had cautiously returned to the high street in March having adapted to the USC reductions.

“Considering that the industry enjoyed Easter and Mother’s Day occasions in March 2010, the March 2011 performance of -2.6 per cent can best be described as robust,” Fitzsimons added.

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