Irish Retailers Have 'Worrying Downturn' In H2: Retail Ireland
Irish retailers had a disconcerting decline in sales for the second half of 2016, due to 'softening consumer sentiment' and a turn to online shopping for many consumers, especially over the Christmas period.
Representative group Retail Ireland highlighted these results in its Retail Monitor released 6 February, which showed a 'disappointing' turn for some segments over the holiday season, with total sales dropping by 0.1% compared to 2015.
Numerous retailers posted minimal growth or saw sales dive. Sales growth was 3% in the January to June span of 2016, compared to 1% in the period between July to December.
The Ibec group's director, Thomas Burke, commented: "A weaker sterling has resulted in shoppers increasingly turning to UK online retailers, with a larger number of consumers also crossing the border to shop.
"Consumer confidence, on which the retail sector is so reliant, has dipped significantly over recent months, partly due to Brexit concerns".
Computer and electronics stores had the worst performance over the holiday season, compared to other retail categories, while department stores struggled with intense competition from rivals and online shopping.
The supermarket and convenience sector, however, was boosted by Christmas falling on a Sunday, giving shoppers two days to purchase groceries. It saw steady growth in the second half of 2016, with promotions encouraging volume growth.
Burke urged the government to aid Irish retailers "by taking urgent and decisive steps to address the high cost of doing business, particularly labour taxes, insurance, and rates".
"Retail was the last sector of the economy to enter a recovery phase after the downturn and remains well below its pre crash peak. Retailers require additional support from government over the coming months to sustain and grow the 275,000 jobs they provide in every city, town and village in the country."
© 2016 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Karen Henderson. To subscribe to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine, click here.