Irish shoppers scattered about clothes and craft supplies in the run-up to Christmas

Irish consumers dumped their money on clothes, paint and appliances in the run-up to Christmas, according to new figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO), sending annual retail sales numbers above pre-pandemic levels.

Overall, November retail sales volumes rose 0.6% from October and about 11% over the same period in 2019, the Central Statistical Office said.

Meanwhile, the value of all retail sales is up 13.2% from pre-pandemic levels and 23.8% before November 2020.

It also increased by 16.3% compared to November 2020 when the country was subject to strict level five restrictions, which included closing shops and non-essential services.

But some sectors have performed better than others, according to the figures.

There was an “exceptional” uptick, 800% year-over-year increase in volume in rod sales in November. However, this reflects the fact that bars mostly closed in November 2020 due to public health restrictions.

Bar sales volume remained 29.2% below pre-pandemic levels in November 2021.

On a monthly basis, bar sales in November fell from October in value (-27.9%) and volume (-23.3%).

Furniture and lighting sales volumes also decreased (-23.3%) in November compared to October, but increased by 49.4% from November 2020.

The largest monthly increase in sales volume was recorded in appliances, paints and glass (+16.3%), clothing and footwear (+14.1%), food, beverages and tobacco (+4.2%), pharmaceuticals, medical preparations and cosmetics (+3.0%) and electrical goods (+1.4%).

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The numbers chime with Treasury returns, published earlier this week, which showed the state collected €15.4 billion in value-added tax receipts last year, up 24% over all of 2020.

With the economy largely reopening from May 2021, sales tax receipts reflected a sharp rise in consumer activity.

Separately, Irish Central Bank figures released today show that spending on credit and debit cards increased overall in November 2021 from the previous month and from the same period in 2020.

Total card spending, including ATM withdrawals, increased 14% or 989 million euros in November 2021 compared to the previous month.

The central bank said online spending increased 21%, or 573 million euros, compared to the previous month, with spending in stores growing by 12%, or 411 million euros.

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