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Irish shoppers splashed out on clothes and DIY supplies in the lead-up to Christmas

But the volume of sales in pubs was still 29.2% below pre-pandemic levels in November, the CSO said.

Image: Leah Farrell

IRISH CONSUMERS SPLASHED their cash on clothes, paint and hardware in the lead-in to Christmas, according to new figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO), sending annual retail sales figures soaring above pre-pandemic levels.

In general, November retail sales volumes were up 0.6% from October and almost 11% on the same period in 2019, the CSO said.

The value of all retail sales, meanwhile, were 13.2% above pre-pandemic levels and 23.8% ahead of November 2020.

They were also up 16.3% compared to November 2020 when the country was under tight Level 5 restrictions, which included the closure of non-essential shops and services. 

But some sectors fared better than others, according to the figures.

There was an “exceptionally” high, 800% annual volume increase in bar sales in November. However, this reflected the fact that pubs were mostly closed in November 2020 due to public health restrictions.

The volume of bar sales was still 29.2% below pre-pandemic levels in November 2021.

Month-on-month, bar sales were down in November from October in terms of value (-27.9%) and volume (-23.3%).

Furniture and lighting sales volumes were also down (-23.3%) in November from October but up 49.4% from November 2020.

The largest monthly volume increases in sales volume were recorded in Hardware, Paints & Glass (+16.3%), clothing and footwear (+14.1%), food, beverages and tobacco (+4.2%), pharmaceuticals, medical and cosmetic articles (+3.0%) and electrical goods (+1.4%) categories. 

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The figures chime with exchequer returns, published earlier this week, which showed that the State collected €15.4 billion in VAT receipts last year, up 24% on the whole of 2020. 

With the economy having largely reopened from May 2021, the sales tax receipts reflected a sharp uptick in consumer activity.

Separately, Central Bank of Ireland figures released today show that credit and debit card spending was up across the board in November 2021 from the previous month and from the same period in 2020.

Total card spending, including ATM withdrawals, increased by 14%, or €989 million, in November 2021 compared to the previous month.

Online spending increased by 21%, or €573 million, compared to the previous month, with in-store spending growing by 12%, or €411 million, the Central Bank said.

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