Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Retail Sales sub-Indices

Along with the All Business and All Business excluding Motor Trades the CSO’s Retail Sales Index provides 13 sub-indices.  Here are the seasonally adjusted monthly and annual changes for each of these sub-indices by volume and value for February.
Clicking any of the titles under the ‘Sub-Index’ heading will bring up a graph showing the values of the sub-index for the past three years, with the associated annual and monthly changes, as well as the weighting given to each sub-index in the overall Retail Sales Index for each month.


Motor Trades
We can see the very strong performance of the motor trades in February.    Overall there are still plenty of red figures in the table.  This is particularly true for the annual changes by value with 11 of the 13 sub-indices still negative.  Annual volume changes are negative for only six sub-indices.  For six of the sub-indices we are buying more stuff than this time last year but paying less for it. 
The monthly figures have more positive numbers with only four monthly declines by volume and five by value.
The gap between value and volume is most evident in the Department Store sector where sales are up 10.9% by volume but down 1.2% by value over the year.  Click the title above to see the graph.  In the graph the red line represents the volume figures and blue line the value figures.


  1. Seamus, The retail sales figures seem to raise many questions as to what is actually going on. There are other signs that we may be close to the floor. For example the Y on Y decline in new spending on credit cards fell to just 2.2% - even if new spending is below 2006 levels. The decline in the volume of food sales may suggest higher levels of emigration than is being suggested.

    It also raises some interesting tax issues relating to VAT. There are four consumer VAT rates, exempt, nil, 13.5% & 21%. The biggest declines seem to be in goods chargeable at nil, e.g. food, exempt, e.g. books, & lower rate, e.g. clothing.

    The increase in the sales of fuel and vehicles should have a greater influence on VAT yield as they are chargeable @21%. While I accept that business inputs may not have fallen as much as sales, leading to a greater decline in net VAT liability than the fall in sales, car & fuel sales should have pushed VAT the other way. The only rational explanation I can think of is non payment of taxes by businesses. Any views?

  2. Hi Niall,

    On fuel: The reason the value index has risen is driven by two factors - price increases and excise increases (the carbon tax). By volume annual fuel consumption is down more than 10%. For VAT I think this is more than enough to bring the amount collected down.

    On new cars: The best month for new cars when compared to last year was March (+78%). The January increase was only 5%. This increase in new car sales for March will not be seen until the May VAT figures when the returns for March and April are made (payable by May 19th).

    VAT is down 13% so far this year but I would slow to attribute it to non-payment by businesses. I think it is more to the large annual decreases in retail sales that were still evident in November and December of 2009 that dragged brought the January 2010 VAT return.

    If the positive trend in retail sales continues I would expect to see a stabilisation of VAT revuenues.