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Retail sales for May: Motor trade down, (almost) everything else up

When including the motor trade, sales are at their lowest in five years – but without cars, the outlook is improving.

Image: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

THE LATEST OFFICIAL figures on the health of the retail sector paint a mixed picture – with the overall value and volume of sales at their lowest levels of the economic crisis, but improving when certain sectors are ignored.

The latest Retail Sales Index compiled by the CSO show the value of retail sales fell by 0.4 per cent in May, compared to its level in April – while the volume of sales fell by 0.1 per cent.

Both figures are now at their lowest since the onset of the 2008 credit crunch, with the value indicator matching the low of January when prices are usually lowered for the seasonal sales.

The volume of sales is now significantly lower than it had been at any point since 2008, however, down by around 21 per cent from the average monthly sale in 2007.

But when the motor trade – which, given the size of the sector, can skew the overall impact of the figures – is removed, the figures show that the volume of sales actually grew by 0.8 per cent in May, while the value of sales grew by 0.7 per cent.

The figures are consistent with other recent CSO figures showing a collapse in the number of new vehicles being registered for the first time.

When broken down by sector, only one industry other than the motor trade – that of books, newspapers and stationery – has seen sales fall, with the value of goods sold falling by 1 per cent, possibly because of the reduced demands from colleges and schools.

Chambers Ireland said the data highlighted “the ongoing softness in the domestic economy and the retail sector in particular”.

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Deputy chief executive Sean Murphy said the ongoing struggle “highlights the need for the Government to focus on cost containment rather than increasing taxes putting added pressure on businesses and taxpayers alike”.

“Cost-cutting must be at the forefront of the agenda for Budget 2013 if the domestic economy is to strengthen and grow,” he said.

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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