Sales of fur­ni­ture boost re­tail fig­ures

Chil­dren’s wear sec­tor is strug­gling, writes Sa­man­tha Mc­caugh­ren

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Business & Appointments - - FRONT PAGE -

RE­TAIL sales grew al­most 2pc in the third-quar­ter of the year, boosted by fur­ni­ture, gar­den prod­ucts and large ap­pli­ances as con­sumers in­vested in their homes.

New fig­ures from mem­bers of Re­tail Ex­cel­lence Ire­land (REI) show that while some cat­e­gories con­tin­ued to feel pres­sure, most cat­e­gories are en­joy­ing some level of growth.

Fur­ni­ture and floor­ing, gar­den cen­tres and It/com­put­ing were all up by over 9pc, while sales of ma­jor home ap­pli­ances were up by 8.1pc.

The footwear, phar­macy and health store cat­e­gories all saw growth of be­tween 1pc and 3pc, while gro­cery was up 0.74pc, ac­cord­ing to REI mem­bers.

How­ever, sec­tors fail­ing to en­joy in­creased con­sumer spend­ing in­cluded chil­dren’s wear (down 3.65pc), small home ap­pli­ances (down 3.1pc) and jew­ellery (down 1pc).

Deputy ceo of REI, Lor­raine Hig­gins (pic­tured), said that “sta­bil­ity has fi­nally re­turned to the Ir­ish re­tail in­dus­try after in­con­sis­tent sales pat­terns recorded by our mem­ber re­tail­ers ear­lier in 2017”.

The Grant Thorn­ton Re­tail Ex­cel­lence Q3 2017 Re­tail Pro­duc­tiv­ity Re­views in­di­cated that “Ir­ish re­tail is fi­nally start­ing to re­cover lost ground”, she said.

“Fur­ni­ture and floor­ing and large home ap­pli­ances had a very ro­bust quar­ter,” said Hig­gins.

“The new con­struc­tion mea­sures in­tro­duced in Bud­get 2018 will serve only to im­prove these per­for­mances in fu­ture re­ports.

“How­ever, what is no­tice­able in this set of re­sults is the widen­ing trad­ing dis­par­ity in each sec­tor, with some op­er­a­tors trad­ing sig­nif­i­cantly up whilst oth­ers have more muted in­creases.

“Over­all, the Ir­ish re­tail in­dus­try has demon­strated its re­silience in the face of ex­ter­nal chal­lenges like Brexit, ster­ling de­val­u­a­tion and the mi­gra­tion to on­line spend. With full em­ploy­ment within touch­ing dis­tance and mea­sures im­ple­mented in Bud­get 2018 which will in­crease con­sumer spend the key to im­prov­ing sales and thus ex­che­quer re­turns is to en­sure im­proved sup­ports for omni-chan­nel re­tail­ers,” Hig­gins added. Damian Glee­son, a part­ner at Grant Thorn­ton, said: “There is a sig­nif­i­cantly im­proved level of dis­cre­tionary con­sumer spend. Ef­fec­tively mean­ing that for the first time in many years there is fi­nally cash in peo­ple’s pock­ets after pay­ing for ne­ces­si­ties. “It must be said that the ad­di­tional spend is still con­stricted to cen­tres of pop­u­la­tion, with ru­ral ar­eas lag­ging be­hind and while the hous­ing mar­ket is im­prov­ing it is still not fully func­tion­ing. With a glass half-full per­spec­tive this means that there is still plenty of room for im­prove­ment.” Colm Mal­lon — client in­sight di­rec­tor at GFK, which analy­ses the sales of elec­tri­cal goods — said: “For the to­tal elec­tri­cal mar­ket, quar­ter three was a pos­i­tive one, show­ing growth of 4pc against Q3 last year.” How­ever, he warned that heavy dis­count­ing lay ahead for re­tail­ers. “Quar­ter four, with pro­mo­tions for Black Fri­day and Christ­mas, will ul­ti­mately de­ter­mine how 2017 is viewed, but most likely it will be flat at best.”

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