Retail sales volumes plunge by 6.6% in a year – but are higher than pre-Covid levels

Retail sales volumes plunge by 6.6% in a year – but are higher than pre-Covid levels

Retail sales volumes have plunged by 6.6% in the year to June 2022, according to new government figures.

The figures, released by the CSO, show retail sales were down 1.3% in the past month, with the largest monthly volume decreases seen in Electrical Goods (-13.5%), Hardware, Paints & Glass (-11.3%) and Clothing & Footwear (-6.3%).

Furniture & Lighting (+25.9%), Department Stores (+19.0%), Books, Newspapers & Stationery (+10.4%) and Bars (+8.2%) recorded the largest monthly volume increases.

Bars (+54.5%) and Pharmaceuticals, Medical & Cosmetic Articles (+6.6%) were the only sectors that showed an annual volume increase but the CSO warned caution should be exercised when interpreting the increase in Bars, as the comparison is with a low base from a year ago when some restrictions still applied.

The volume of Retail Sales excluding Motor Trades fell by 2.1% in the month and dropped by 6.4% in the year when compared with June 2021. However, the volume of retail sales in June 2022 was 2.4% higher than pre-COVID-19 levels in February 2020.

The value of retail sales in the Fuel sector rose by 28.5% in the year to June 2022 while the volume fell by 6.9% over the same period, reflecting higher prices compared with the previous year.

The proportion of retail sales transacted online (from Irish registered companies) was 4.9% in June 2022 compared with 5.7% in May 2022, 4.9% in June 2021 and 6.7% in June 2020.

Commenting on the release, Stephanie Kelleher, Statistician in the Business Statistics Division, said:  “Two sectors showed an annual increase in the volume of sales compared with June 2021. Bars rose by 54.5% compared with June 2021, however despite this large recovery in June 2022 over the previous year, Bar sales remained 24.0% lower than its pre-COVID-19 level in February 2020. Pharmaceuticals, Medical & Cosmetic Articles also showed an annual increase (+6.6%).

“The sectors which showed the largest annual reductions in volume were Other Retail Sales (-29.8%), Food, Beverages & Tobacco (Specialised Stores) (-14.6%) and Motor Trades (-14.5%).

“Compared with February 2020 (28 months earlier and pre-COVID-19), the volume of All Retail Sales in June 2022 was 2.4% higher. The highest increases were seen in Pharmaceuticals, Medical & Cosmetic Articles (+25.4%), Clothing & Footwear (+22.8%), Hardware, Paints & Glass (+16.2%) and Department Stores (+13.6%).

“The largest decreases in the volume of sales in June 2022 when compared with February 2020 levels, were Bars (-24.0%), Books, Newspapers & Stationery (-19.8%), and Fuel (-10.9%).”