Online sales fall as shops reopen – CSO

The proportion of online sales by Irish companies fell to 6pc in May, from 10pc of retail sales in April, as non-essential shops started to reopen.

ith instore shopping resumed fully on May 17, the proportion of online sales in clothing, footwear and textiles fell to 11.2pc compared to 58.2pc of the sales done online in the previous month, according to data from the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

Last year Irish businesses generated 7pc of their turnover from online sales, up from 3pc in 2019, as Covid-19 restrictions brought about changes to consumer buying habits.

In the first three months of this year 11.4pc of turnover by Irish companies came from e-commerce, according to the CSO figures.

Overall, retail sales increased by 1.8pc in May when compared to April on a seasonally adjusted basis.

On an annual basis, retail volumes were 44pc higher than in May last year, however the country was under Level 5 lockdowns in the same period in 2020.

The sectors with the highest annual volume increases were clothing, footwear and textiles, where sales were up 462pc year-on-year, furniture and lighting, which experienced growth of 195pc, and motor trades, which was up 139pc when compared to the same period last year.

The CSO said that while the annual increases are “significant” people should exercise “caution” when interpreting these changes, “as the comparison is with a low base from a year ago.”

In May of last year, the annual volume of retail sales in clothing, footwear and textiles fell by 78.5pc, furniture and lighting fell by 66.5pc, while motor sales dropped by 50pc.

Compared to May 2019 the overall volume of retail sales in May 2021 was 6.8pc higher.

When motor trades are excluded, the volume of retail sales increased by 9pc in May this year over the previous month and increased by 22.6pc when compared to May 2020, showing a strong recovery from the low base of last year.

The value of retail sales was 1pc higher last month than in April 2021.

On an annual basis the value of retail sales was 47.3pc higher than May 2020. Excluding motor sales, the value of retail sales increased by 8.4pc in the month and increased by 22pc on an annual basis.

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