Retail Excellence Ireland has welcomed the 3.3 per cent annualised increase in value in retail sales.
Retail sales figures for February released last week by the Central Statistics Office (CSO ) show that, although the volume of non-motor retail sales rose by 1.2 per cent compared to January 2017, the value of these annualised sales increased by 3.3 per cent.
Lorraine Higgins of Retail Excellence said: “We welcome this figure and the upward trend but would warn against being too optimistic. We have been contacted by many members in recent days who are experiencing very negative trading conditions. Some retailers are reporting like for like declines of upwards of 30 per cent against March 2016.
"It is clear that consumer sentiment has been negatively impacted due to concerns about the impact of Brexit. The primary income in over 100,000 homes comes from a company which is dependent on export to the UK market (agri, food, drink ). We also believe that there has been a further acceleration in online shopping activity, most of which is fulfilled outside of Ireland.
"If this business was being done with Irish-based retailers it would generate up to €1.7bn more VAT for the exchequer, boosting annual VAT receipts by more than 13 per cent.
“Retailing is tough at present, with many experiencing a combination of legacy issues such as high rents. The real challenge will be the impact of the invocation of Article 50 when it is triggered this week."