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Ireland's retail sales down in April

Staff writer |
The volume of retail sales decreased by 0.9 percent in April 2014 compared to a month earlier, according to official figures.

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However, there was an increase of 6.8 percent on an annual basis, said the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

Excluding motor trade, there was an increase of 1.6 percent in the volume of retail sales in April compared to March and there was an increase of 4.6 percent in the annual figure.

CSO figures showed that furniture and lighting sales rose by 6.4 percent in April on a monthly basis, while hardware, paint and glass sales grew by 3.3 percent and sales of food, beverages and tobacco increased by 2.4 percent.

The sectors with the largest monthly decreases were motor trade (down 3.8 percent), pharmaceutical, medical and cosmetic articles (down 2.2 percent) and books, newspapers and stationery (down 1.5 percent).

Retail Ireland, a group representing the country's retail sector, said the CSO figures were "encouraging" and would hopefully lead to continued growth for the rest of the year.

"While the figures for the first quarter of 2014 were disappointing, April's numbers are much stronger. Retail Ireland is forecasting growth in consumer spending of around 2 percent this year and today's data supports this," said Retail Ireland director Stephen Lynam.

Lynam said one of the biggest problems facing retailers is the high levels of local authority rates and charges, adding that it is vital to reduce this burden on struggling retailers in towns and cities around the country.