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Dublin: 4 °C Saturday 24 March, 2018

Retail sales on the up for second month running

CSO figures show that the volume of retail sales grew by 0.2 per cent last month, with the value of sales up by 0.6pc.

Image: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

NEW FIGURES from the Central Statistics Office show that the value and volume of retail sales grew for the second month in succession in March.

The figures show that the volume of sales increased by 0.2 per cent last month, while the value of sales was up by 0.6 per cent.

In both cases, however, the figures were below those of March 2011, with the volume of sales down by 1.0 per cent on the same time 12 months ago, while the value of sales was down by 0.4 per cent.

The increase was led by a boost in the motor trade, which saw the volume of sales increase by 4.1 per cent and the value of sales jump by 4.0 per cent compared to February.

Sales in bars, meanwhile, were up by 3.5 per cent in volume, and 2.1 per cent in value – though both figures are still down by over 4 per cent on the same month of last year.

Chambers Ireland said the comments showed the domestic economy was still “becalmed”, with deputy CEO Sean Murphy saying the 1 per cent annual decline illustrated the impact of the increase in the top VAT rate of 21 per cent to 23.

Retail Ireland said the improvement was welcome but disappointing when compared to last year’s figures, but insisted the VAT increase did not tell the “the whole story”.

“Sales in shops account for only half of the VAT take,” said director Stephen Lynam. “The other half comes from items such as utility bills and professional services – most of which consumers cannot avoid spending their money on.”

Retail Excellence Ireland said the figures were were affected by the good weather in the late part of the month, which provided “some respite in what was a relatively positive month”.

Read: Bar sales down 6 per cent as consumption of alcohol falls

More: Irish grocery market slips back into decline – report

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