Friday, April 26, 2013

26/4/2013: Another indicator turns South: Irish Retail Sales March 2014

Off the start, let me say I am sorry that I have to bring one set of bad news after another. Living, working, raising kids and building my family future in Ireland means that I have as much 'skin in the game' of seeing Irish economy recover from this crisis as any one of us.

With that in mind, here are the latest statistics from the CSO on Irish retail services activity in March 2013. These make for ugly reading.

First, quoting CSO own release:

"The volume of retail sales (i.e. excluding price effects) decreased by 1.9% in March 2013 when compared with February 2013 and there was a decrease of 3.6% in the annual figure.  If Motor Trades are excluded, the volume of retail sales decreased by 1.8% in March 2013 when compared with February 2013 and there was an annual decrease of 1.6%.

There was a decrease in the value of retail sales in March 2013 when compared with February 2013 of 1.9% and there was an annual decrease of 4.1% when compared with March 2012.  If Motor Trades are excluded, there was a monthly decrease of 1.8% in the value of retail sales and an annual decrease of 1.7%."

So, both volumes and values of sales, both core (ex-Motors) and overall have tanked in m/m and y/y terms. This is outright ugly.

Details of dynamics, all for ex-Motors sales:

  • Value Index for core retail sales 3mo MA through March 2013 stood at 95.7 down from 3mo MA through December 2012 which read 97.1 (a 3mo back decline of 2.38%). 6mo MA stood at 96.4 against 6mo MA through August 2012 at 95.8. Which means deterioration set in over the last 3 months. Volumes of sales is now down 5.2% on 2005 average levels and 6.42% down on crisis period average activity levels.
  • Volume Index for core retail sales 3mo MA through March 2013 stood at 99.0 down from 3mo MA through December 2012 which read 100.9 (a 3mo back decline of 3.07%). 6mo MA stood at 100.0 against 6mo MA through August 2012 at 99.4. Which means deterioration in value of sales also set in over the last 3 months. Values of sales are now down 2.2% on 2005 average levels and 5.35% down on crisis period average activity levels.
  • Meanwhile, ESRI-reported Consumer Confidence Index rose to 60.0 in March 2013 against 59.4 in February, with 1.01% m/m rise and down only 0.99% on March 2012. 
  • On 3mo MA basis - while both Volume and Value of core activities fell, Consumer Confidence index rose at a massive 20.5% rate. Bizarre stuff.
  • Both Volume and Value of sales in March 2013 stood below 2005 average, while Consumer Confidence stood 18.5% above! Both measures of retails sales have dropped in march 2013 compared to crisis period average, but Consumer Confidence rose 8.3%. Even more bizarre stuff.
  • My Retail Sales Activity Index fared much better than the ESRI Consumer Confidence Indicator - down m/m 1.22% and down 1.46% y/y, while up only slightly (+0.20%) on 2005 average and down 3.11% on crisis period average.
Charts:



Core Conclusions: Latest retail sales figures are outright ugly. These signal continued downside pressure on the domestic economy and, given the dynamics in personal income and earnings, this momentum appears to be driven by the overall consumer sentiment and lack of confidence in future income dynamics, related to Government policy (property tax and personal insolvency regime reforms) and to banks' interest rates policies (consumers expecting rises in the rates, confirmed by this week's ARM rate hikes by AIB & its subsidiaries). The economy is once again putting us on warning: turn downward in economic activity can be expected as a major risk.
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