Monday, January 7, 2013

Retail Sales slip

There isn’t much that goes to plan in the Irish economy but a monthly drop in November’s retail sales after the fillip offered by the digital switchover at the end of October went as expected.  This is from the November Retail Sales Index published by the CSO today.

Ex Motor Trades Index to November 2012

Retail sales had been on an upward trajectory since July and are still well ahead of the June levels but the annual growth that was seen in the three months is no longer present.  In order for the annual change to remain above zero for December, monthly growth of around 0.5% will have to be seen.

Annual Change Ex Motor Trade Index to November 2012

The monthly changes continue to be volatile and as indicated above November recorded the first monthly declines since June.

Monthly Change Ex Motor Trade Index to November 2012

Although electrical goods showed the expected decline (down 18% by volume on the month) there were falls in nine of the 13 business categories reported by the CSO.  Monthly volume falls in excess of 1% were also recorded for:

  • Food beverages & Tobacco –1.7%
  • Fuel – 3.2%
  • Books, Newspapers and Stationery –1.5%
  • Other Retail Sales –1.8%

The categories showing a monthly volume increase were:

  • Non-Specialised Stores +0.1%
  • Department Stores +2.4%
  • Furniture and Lighting +2.7%
  • Bars +3.2%

There has been a lot of talk of strong retail sales in the run to Christmas and in the post-Christmas sales.  It will be next month’s RSI before this will be seen.  Retail Excellence Ireland have been particularly bullish in the past few weeks but at the end of November (the time the above data was being collected) they issued this press release.

Irish retailers are predicting a drop of -0.47% in Christmas 2012 Trading, according to a survey published today by Retail Excellence Ireland (REI), Ireland’s largest retail industry trade body.

The December 2012 and January 2013 Retail Sales Index releases will show us whether things went to this plan.


  1. Hmmmm Seamus,

    Electrical goods, the category that includes TVs and saorview boxes were up 4.8% by volume and 10.8% by value in November 2012 compared with November 2011, which suggests that the pre-digital switchover buying spree CONTINUED in November 2012.

    The figures are just bad, hopefully they're a blip, that the quarterly increases are more representative, and the anecdote about the December and Christmas sales is correct. But dismissing the decrease as the unwinding of the saorview effect seems wrong.

  2. Hi Jag,

    I don't think the digital switchover had much on an impact on the annual changes; the main affect was on the monthly figures. I agree that there was probably some "switchover residual" from people who delayed until November but that would have had a relatively small impact on the overall index. The volume figures for the Electrical Goods category are:

    2011M11 132.9
    2011M12 143.3
    2012M01 123.6
    2012M02 131.1
    2012M03 127.9
    2012M04 140.8
    2012M05 137.4
    2012M06 140.9
    2012M07 138.4
    2012M08 140.5
    2012M09 144.8
    2012M10 179.1
    2012M11 147.3

    The reading of 147.3 for November is more than 7% ahead of the 3-month average for Jun-Aug and is the largest such increase.

    The impact of the October rise and November fall in these figures does muddy the overall pattern. The November figures were not good though as there "were falls in nine of the 13 business categories reported by the CSO."