Retail sales are flat in May as consumers grapple with rising costs

The volume of retail sales was flat in May on a monthly basis and was 0.3 percent higher than the same month last year, according to the latest figures from the Central Statistics Office.

The numbers show no sign of a consumer-driven spending spree as the first free summer since 2019 begins.

In April, retail sales volume rose 4.1 percent compared to March, the strongest monthly sales in more than a year.

However, a post-lockdown boom now looks unlikely as inflationary pressures mount. Irish inflation reached 8.2 percent in May, slightly above the EU average of 8.1 percent.

The value of retail sales also fell in May, the first drop this year, with spending on auto sales falling 0.1 percent on a monthly basis.

In May, department store sales rose a fifth from April, while sales of electrical appliances and hardware, paint and glass saws rose 9.2 percent and 6.5 percent, respectively.

However, the furniture and lighting categories saw a 22.3 percent drop last month compared to April. Sales of apparel and footwear also fell 21 percent from the previous month.

One bright spot is bar sales, which have skyrocketed 769 per cent compared to May last year when pubs were still in lockdown. Despite the recovery, February 2020 sales are more than a quarter below pre-pandemic numbers.

Sales of books, newspapers and stationery also rose 107 percent over the year.

Rising fuel costs were also reflected in the report. While the value of fuel sales rose 27.2 percent in the year to May, the quantity sold fell 0.5 percent as consumers declined.

Online sales in May rose 1.2 percent to 6.1 percent. This was slightly higher than the number recorded in May 2021 but over 7 per cent lower than in May 2020 when Ireland was in lockdown.

According to Kantar, Irish supermarkets saw a 9.3 percent increase in online spending last month. This may have been coupled with a desire to travel less to save fuel.

Despite the lack of growth in May, retail sales last month proved to be 7.2 percent higher overall than the pre-pandemic level reported in February 2020. Retail sales are flat in May as consumers grapple with rising costs

Fry Electronics Team

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