Department store, electrical goods and hardware sales grew sharply on the month, while furniture, clothing and car sales saw falls.

Retailers had posted their strongest monthly sales in more than a year in April, when they grew by 4.1%.

Even with annual inflation at a near 40-year high of 7.8%, the value of retail sales – excluding car sales – fell by 0.1% year-on-year in May, the first month-on-month drop this year.

Sectors with the biggest monthly gains included department stores, where sales jumped by 20.9%, while sales of electrical goods were up 9.2% and hardware, paints and glass sales increased by 6.5%.

The largest monthly volume decreases were seen in the furniture and lighting sector, with sales down 22.3%, while clothing and footwear sales fell 21.1% and car sales slowed by 7%.

The CSO noted that two sectors showed very large annual increases in the volume of sales in May compared with May 2021.

Bar sales soared 769% in May compared with the same time last year, but despite the large recovery they still remain 26.6% lower than their pre-Covid19 level in February 2020.

Books, newspapers and stationery also showed a large annual increase, jumping by 107%, which also reflected a recovery from a very low base in May 2021.

The CSO also noted that the value of sales in the fuel sector rose by 27.2% in the year to May 2022 while volumes fell by 0.5% over the same time, reflecting higher prices compared with the previous year.

Meanwhile, the proportion of retail sales transacted online, from Irish registered companies, rose to 6.1% in May compared with 4.9% in April and 5.6% the same time last year.