Belfast Telegraph

Republic of Ireland's consumers continued to spend solidly in November

Positive: Alan McQuaid
Positive: Alan McQuaid

By Gavin McLoughlin

Irish retail sales increased 0.4% year-on-year in value terms in November, excluding the motor trade.

Sales of electrical goods (up 6.8%) and in bars (up 4.1%) helped the volume of sales grow 0.2% compared to October.

Merrion Capital economist Alan McQuaid said the figures were weaker than expected, but that consumers were still spending solidly.

Sales volumes excluding the motor trade rose 1.9% year-on-year.

"Retail sales continue to remain erratic on a monthly basis and are still swinging back and forth, but the underlying trend is positive," he said.

"Even with the fluctuation in consumer sentiment, overall personal spending has been positive in the past couple of years, boosted by the increase in the numbers employed in the country.

"This is despite the fact that the weakness in sterling since the June 2016 Brexit referendum has enticed some shoppers to spend in Northern Ireland."

Retail Ireland, the Ibec (Irish Business and Employers Federation) body that represents retailers, said the figures showed the "distorting" impact that November discount event Black Friday has had.

"There were significant variations in the performance of the various retail sub categories during November, with those categories most active around the promotional event performing best. Unsurprisingly, electrical goods sales were strong," its director Thomas Burke said.

"There was notable weakness in department store and clothing and footwear sales in the period, with the relatively mild winter to date and the growing online challenge heavily impacting these categories."

A number of local retail centres have reported growing levels of cross-border trade.

Newry's Buttercrane Centre - one of two major shopping centres in the city - has said cross-border shopper numbers were up 11% in November and December.

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