Thursday, January 27, 2011

27/01/2011: Retail sales for December 2010

Retail sales stats are in. Given the weather conditions in December, the Budget 2011 pillaging the pockets of consumers, remaining uncertainty in the economy, and tanking consumer confidence (see here) it was not surprising to see the end results for the sales in December 2010.

Per CSO: “The volume of retail sales (i.e. excluding price effects) decreased by 3.1% in December 2010 when compared with December 2009 and there was a monthly decrease of 1.1%.” Worse than that: ex-Motor Trades, the volume of retail sales fell by 3.6% yoy in December 2010, and 2.5%mom.



  • Motor Trades (-8.0%)
  • Fuel (-21.7%)
  • Furniture and Lighting (-21.5)
  • Bars (-9.9%)
were “amongst the ten categories that showed year-on-year decreases in the volume of retail of retail sales this month”.

The value of retail sales has suffered even more than the volumes (and remember – it’s the value, not the volume that supports jobs in the sector) contracting by 4.1% yoy in December 2010 and falling 0.9% mom. Ex-Motor Trades annual decrease was 3.3% in the value and a monthly decrease of 1.3%.

Further per CSO: "Provisional estimates are now available for the final quarter of 2010… the volume of retail sales decreased by 0.6% year on year in Q4, with the value decreasing by 2.1%. If Motor Trades are excluded the volume of retail sales decreased by 1.8% year on year in the final quarter of 2010 and the value of retail sales decreased by 2.4%."

Let’s add to that the following observation: since 2007 through the end of 2010 Irish retail sales fell 23.3% in value and 18.6% in volume.

Weather effects, that undoubtedly contributed to the declines in retail activity in December should not give us comfort going into 2011. The trends in both RSI and Consumer Confidence are less than encouraging. But one does need to take into perspective that, for example, a massive decline in fuel (due to transport disruptions during the snow periods) and declines in 'Other' categories - mobiles, toys, jewelery etc - and clothing, footware & textiles clearly inidcate the disruptive nature of December weather.
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