Cate McCurry, PA
The volume of retail sales rose by 1.8 per cent last month compared with April last year, new figures show.
On an annual basis, retail volumes were 44 per cent higher than in May 2020 after sales dropped significantly because of Covid-19 restrictions, according to the Central Statistics Office (CSO).
The retail sales figure for May this year was 6.8 per cent higher when compared with two years earlier.
Recovering from the low level of May 2020, the sectors with the highest annual volume increases were clothing, footwear and textiles, which increased by 462 per cent, as well as furniture and lighting, up 195 per cent, and motor trades, which rose by 139 per cent.
— Central Statistics Office Ireland (@CSOIreland) June 28, 2021
The CSO said that while the annual increases are significant, it urged caution when interpreting the changes, as the comparison is with a low base from a year ago.
In May last year, the annual volume of retail sales in clothing, footwear and textiles fell by 78.5 per cent, furniture and lighting was down by 66.5 per cent, while motor trades dropped by 50 per cent.
Compared with May 2019, the volume of retail sales in May this year was 6.8 per cent higher.
However, several sectors were below their level of sales in May 2019.
These included bars, which fell by 92 per cent, books, newspapers and stationery were down by 65 per cent, department stores dropped 17 per cent, fuel fell by 12 per cent, and furniture and lighting by 1 per cent.
All other sectors had a volume of sales in May 2021 which exceeded May 2019 levels, CSO figures show.
The highest increases were seen in hardware, paints and glass, electrical goods, food, beverages and tobacco, clothing, footwear and textiles, motor trades and non-specialised stores.
In May, the largest monthly volume increases in sales were recorded in clothing, footwear and textiles, and department stores.
For the first time this year both sectors reopened on May 10th by appointment only and fully on May 17th.
This is in contrast to May last year when both sectors were closed.
The largest decreases in the month were in bars, and books, newspapers and stationery.
When motor trades are excluded, the volume of retail sales increased by 9.1 per cent in May over the previous month and increased by 22 per cent when compared with May 2020, again showing a strong recovery from the low base of last year.
The proportion of retail sales transacted online, from Irish registered companies, fell to 6 per cent in May 2021, down from 10 per cent of all retail sales in April 2021 and from 13 per cent in May of last year.
After in-store shopping reopened last month, the proportion of online sales in clothing, footwear and textiles fell to 11 per cent compared with 58 per cent of sales transacted online in the previous month.