Retail sales volumes fell by 1% on an annual basis in March but managed a slight gain of 0.2% compared to the previous month, according to the latest figures from the Central Statistics Office.
If Motor Trades are excluded, the volume of retail sales increased by 0.3% in March 2012 when compared with February 2012, while there was an annual decrease of 1.7%.
Among the main monthly increases are Motors (4.1%), Bars (3.5%), Non-Specialised Stores (0.7%) and Furniture and Lighting (0.7%).
Monthly decreases were recorded in Other Retail Sales (-4.9%), Electrical Goods (-4.2%) Pharmaceuticals Medical and Cosmetic Articles (-1.6%).
The value of retail sales increased by 0.6pc in March 2012 when compared with February 2012 and there was an annual change of -0.4%.
If Motor Trades are excluded, there was a monthly increase of 0.8% in the value of retail sales and an annual change of -0.7%.
ISME, the Irish Small & Medium Enterprises Association, has called on the Government to initiate a coherent strategy for the retail sector through the promised Retail Strategy Group before it is too late. They say thousands of shops throughout the country are struggling to keep their doors open through an unprecedented recession with the 262,000 employees in danger. The Association warned that a further 25,000 employees could lose their jobs in the next year.
Commenting, ISME Chief Executive, Mark Fielding stated, “retailers have invested heavily in their businesses and in response to the downturn, have cut their prices even though their retail sales have shrunk by 30%. At the same time the cost of running a shop has not fallen to the same extent with rents, rates, local charges, waste and even pay rates remaining high. Many of these costs are determined and driven by government, who seem to have a death wish for the sector, despite protestations of support”.