Retail sales rise after further loosening of restrictions

Retail sales rose in June as the sector picked up pace following the further loosening of Covid-19 restrictions.

Figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) showed volume was 3.3 per cent higher compared with May’s figures, and 10.6 per cent higher than in June 2020.

However, the 2020 comparative figures were during a period when some restrictions were still in place on non-essential retail, and the CSO has cautioned on interpreting the changes with this in mind.

When compared to 2019 figures, retail sales in June 2021 were 13.1 per cent higher than the pre-Covid figures.

The highest monthly increase was seen in bars, which rose 553 per cent on the month and 184 per cent on the year. The sector has been limited since the pandemic began, with many premises remaining shut since the initial lockdown in March 2020.

There were also significant annual increases in books, newspapers and stationery, which rose almost 47 per cent; clothing and footwear, which increased by 42.6 per cent; and department stores, which increased by 37.7 per cent. In 2020, non-essential retail premises with their own on-street access could reopen on June 8th, while shopping centres could only reopen on June 15th.

When compared with pre-Covid figures, bars were still 48 per cent below June 2019 volumes, while books, newspapers and stationery were almost 11 per cent lower and fuel was down 4.4 per cent.

“Extreme caution should be exercised when interpreting these changes, as the comparison is with a low base,” said Stephanie Kelleher, statistician with the CSO. “Last year bars serving food could open on the June 29th, 2020 while this year bars were allowed serve customers outdoors for the entire month.”

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All other sectors showed an increase in sales compared with 2019, with other retail sales rising 33.8 per cent, and hardware, paints and glass rising 28.1 per cent.

Irish registered companies saw the proportion of retail sales transacted online fall to 5 per cent last month from 6.7 per cent in June 2020, as more people returned to in-person shopping.


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