Irish retail sales experienced a slowdown in November, with growth rates declining compared to the previous month. According to the Central Statistics Agency, retail sale volumes only increased by 0.6% in November, compared to a more robust 1.7% increase in October. However, when looking at the year-on-year comparison, retail volumes were up by an impressive 16.3%.

It is important to consider the impact of Covid-19 restrictions when analyzing these figures. In November 2020, Ireland was under Level 5 restrictions, which meant that only essential retail was open for business. As a result, the volume of retail sales had seen a significant decline of 12% compared to the previous month.

Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, the fashion sector continued to perform well in November. The Central Statistics Agency highlighted that the highest increases in sales volumes were observed in the Hardware, Paints & Glass category, with a growth rate of 16.3%, and the Clothing & Footwear category, with a growth rate of 14.1%. The fashion category, in particular, experienced an astonishing 212% year-on-year increase. However, it is crucial to note that this figure may have been distorted by the lockdown conditions in November 2020.

When comparing current retail sales volumes to the pre-pandemic period, the Central Statistics Agency reported a 10.9% increase. The Clothing & Footwear category saw an even more significant rise of 32% over a two-year basis. It is important to exercise caution when interpreting these figures, as the November 2019 data may have been affected by the timing of Black Friday, which was accounted for in the December reporting period.

The shift towards online shopping also continued in November, with Irish registered companies conducting a slightly higher proportion of retail sales online. In November 2021, 6.2% of retail sales were transacted online, compared to 5.5% in October and 12.4% in November 2020. This ongoing trend reflects the growing preference of consumers for digital platforms in their shopping habits.

In conclusion, although Irish retail sales growth slowed down in November, the fashion sector demonstrated its resilience. Year-on-year growth was significant, albeit with some distortions due to the unique circumstances of 2020. The continued rise of online shopping emphasizes the importance of digital platforms for retailers.

Useful links:
Central Statistics Agency: Retail Sales Index November 2021
Retail Ireland (Irish retail industry association)