2017 is ‘strong’ year for Irish retail, but over €3bn is spent abroad

The Irish consumer economy is in good health, with Irish consumers spending €5 billion online last year, but €3 billion of that went to online retailers abroad, found a new report.


Photo: Primark


According to the latest Consumer Market Monitor, published by the Marketing Institute of Ireland and Michael Smurfit, total disposable income stood at €102 billion in the fourth quarter. That is more than the last peak experienced a decade ago in 2007.

An increase in the number of people employed, as well as a rise in hours worked and pay rises, is leading to a substantial surge in the amount of disposable income in the Irish economy. Whist the first half of 2017 saw consumers behave cautiously, consumer spending picked up in the second half of the year, said the report.

For the retail industry, 2017 was a strong year and growth accelerated as the year progressed, suggesting that the momentum will continue in 2018. Retail sales increased by 7% in real volume terms in 2017, totalling €40 billion.

All product categories experienced growth in the fourth quarter, including Clothing, Footwear and Textiles, which grew by 5.7% in volume and 1.8% in value. Meanwhile, Department Stores performed strongly and were up 8.2% in volume and 4% in value.

Mary Lambkin, Professor of Marketing at UCD Smurfit School and author of the report, said: “It is great to hear the cash registers ringing again for Irish retailers, and signs are positive for continued growth. The rapidly expanding labour market and rising incomes are two significant factors fuelling spending, however, a significant amount of retail spending is leaving the country.

“Only 40% of online retail spending goes to Irish websites which is disappointing for indigenous businesses. This is something that can be improved upon, but will require investment in websites and e-commerce platforms, as well as access to decent broadband infrastructure.”

Major Irish retailers include Dunnes, Primark (under the Penney’s brand), Arnotts, Heatons and Brown Thomas.

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