The figures suggest that rising inflation has yet to dampen consumer spending.

With annual inflation at a 21-year high of 5.6%, the value of retail sales rose by 6.2% compared to a year ago, almost three-times the 2.2% year-on-year rise in the volume of sales in February.

The value of fuel sales jumped by 46.5% in the year to February, while the volume rose by 18.1% over the same period, the Central Statistics Office said.

The CSO said today’s figures show that several sectors showed very large annual increases in the volume of sales compared with the same month last year when a full lockdown of non-essential retail and services was in force.

Sales in bars soared by 726% in February compared with the same month last year. Bars were closed in February of last year apart from some ancillary services.

But the CSO said that despite the large recovery in February of this year, bar sales remain 30.2% lower than their pre-Covid-19 level in February 2020.

Sales of clothing and footwear also saw a big jump of 295% in Febriary, while Department Stores sales were up 88.1% and sales of books, newspapers and stationery rose by 79.5%.

The CSO said these big increases reflected a recovery from a very low base in February 2021 when the country was in Level 5 lockdown.

Compared to a year ago, the three sectors which showed the largest reduction in volume were electrical goods, which decreased by 12.9%, while sales of hardware, paints and glass fell by 11.8% and non-specialised stores – including supermarkets- eased by 8.1%

On a monthly basis, the CSO said the largest monthly volume increases in sales were recorded in bars with sales up by 13.9%, while sales of hardware, paints and glass rose by 7%.

The largest monthly decreases in the volume of sales were in Department Stores, which fell by 5.4%, while furniture and lighting were down 1.2% and Non-Specialised Stores (including supermarkets) eased by 0.8%.

Today’s CSO figures also show that the proportion of retail sales transacted online from Irish registered companies fell to 4.7% in February from 5.6% in January.

It also marked a fall from 11.8% in February 2021 and up from 3.5% in February 2020, before the outbreak of Covid-19 here.