A late surge will see Christmas retail sales match last year's levels

Retail Excellence Ireland says mild weather has impacted the sale of winter clothing.

By Killian Woods Reporter, Fora

RETAIL TRADING NATIONWIDE is expected to hit the same levels as last year after a late rally by shoppers.

According to Retail Excellence Ireland (REI), there was a significant difference between Christmas trading in 2015 and this year until the last few days.

Speaking about the troubles retailers have experienced in the run up to Christmas this year, Retail Excellence Ireland communications director Lynn Drumgoole said it showed that consumers’ habits are shifting.

“Consumer shopping patterns are changing with savvy consumers researching online and instore for the best prices, discounting and ease of shopping experience,” she said.

“The impact of Black Friday cannot be ignored but with 2 full days of trading left and many people finishing work and travelling home we should see local stores benefit as people buy those last-minute gifts.”

The organisation, which represents over 1,600 companies, highlighted that despite issues faced by many retailers, trading in menswear is up on last year and trading by cafés has also marginally increased.

However, retailers in the telecommunications, footwear and jewellery space have seen sales levels drop.

Lynn-Image Lynn Drumgoole
Source: Retail Excellence Ireland

REI also noted that in the past few weeks, footfall in a lot of urban centres in Ireland has increased, but mild weather has had an impact on the sale of winter clothing, with the lower than expected level of sales forcing some retailers to offer discounts on these items pre-Christmas.

Black Friday and Trump

As activity in the retail sector struggled to match last year’s levels, online retailers were big winners, with some e-commerce businesses experiencing double-digit growth on sales compared to last year.

REI said this is in part down to the growing influence of Black Friday on consumer spending habits and that logistics companies have reported a ”30% to 80% increase” in packages arriving from the UK.

The group also noted that weaker sterling and a Trump effect had impacted consumer confidence.

“Contributory factors (to the slowdown) include a post-Brexit and Trump erosion in consumer sentiment, a significant increase in online shopping into the United Kingdom and the forward movement of spending into the Black Friday weekend,” the organisation said in a statement last week.