Belfast Telegraph

Digital switchover boosts TV sales

A spike in the sale of television sets for the digital switchover helped boost retailers' figures last month.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) revealed the volume and value of sales both rose by almost 1% in September.

Stephen Lynam, of business group Retail Ireland, said electrical goods had been one of the largest increases, partly due to the purchase of new television sets in time for the digital switchover.

But he warned it was not all good news, with total retail sales falling 30% since the start of the recession.

"While the increase recorded in the figures is welcome, we have a long, long way to go before the retail sector returns to health," he said.

"We are now heading into Budget season. Speculation on new taxes, such as the nature and size of the property tax, continuing for another month could well end up damaging consumer confidence further."

The CSO said the pub sector saw the biggest monthly rise at 4.5% but warned the value of sales was still two-thirds of what was sold in 2005.

Elsewhere, sales of electrical goods rose by 2.8% and purchases in department stores by 2.6%. The largest monthly decreases were seen in books, newspapers and stationery (-10.7%), fuel (-1.8%), and food, beverages and tobacco (specialised stores) were down 1.5%.

David Fitzsimons, of Retail Excellence Ireland, said the industry is in distress. "On-going speculation around Budget 2013 will continue to affect retail sales and consumer sentiment pre-Christmas," he said. "We urge all political parties to remain silent on Budget 2013 and refrain from making unhelpful comments until budget day."

Elsewhere,. the Irish Small & Medium Enterprises Association said the slight improvement in retail figures was no excuse for Government to get complacent.

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