Retail Ireland, the Ibec group that represents the sector, today said Irish retailers were reporting a strong performance over the Christmas season with most on track to hit, and in some cases surpass, pre-Christmas sales growth targets. Retail Ireland had predicted industry wide sales value growth in the region of 2.6% to €2,654 per household in its pre-Christmas Retail Monitor, and indications are that the industry is on track to meet this target. Many retailers are also reporting a noticeable uplift in their online stores this Christmas season.
Despite a more positive mood however, retailers are reporting that recent weeks have seen a significant distortion in trade in the border counties as a weak sterling continues to draw Irish consumers in close proximity to the border into Northern Ireland, while delivery solutions companies reporting brisk trade in packages from the UK and beyond.
Director of Retail Ireland, Thomas Burke, said: “Retailers have been greatly challenged in recent weeks by an increase in both cross border sales and online sales with foreign websites. In order to counteract this shift retailers have continued to drive prices downwards and improve both in store and online offerings.
“While certain categories are feeling the impact of this pressure, on the whole, retailers are reporting steady, if unspectacular growth on the same period in 2016. Most remain on track to achieve pre-Christmas sales growth targets which would result in the best Christmas performance by the sector in close to a decade.
“That said, sales will likely remain somewhat off the 2007 peak, and for some retailers it will be a close run thing, with the performance in days immediately post-Christmas, and the January sales, likely to be crucial in terms of the final outcome.”
Mr.Burke concluded by acknowledging that positive demographic trends are supporting growth in the sector. The population is estimated to have grown by 52,900 persons in the year to April 2017, marking the largest annual increase since 2008.
Particular trends highlighted by various retailers this Christmas include:
- · Border retailers under sustained pressure in recent weeks
· Retailers reporting a late surge in sales with a particular pick up in the last 5 days of trading as Christmas falls immediately after a weekend this year
· Heavy discounting in food lines as intense competition between grocery retailers benefits consumers
· Dublin stores performing more strongly than regional stores
· Irish retailers also reporting strong trade in their online stores this Christmas