The latest figures from EuroStat indicate that the volume of retail trade has fallen in the Eurozone by 1.1% in May 2011. This is despite showing signs of recovery in April. This can be observed in Figure 1. The EU27 also suffered a drop of 1.1% in May.
When we compare Ireland’s performance with that of the Europe in Figure 2 we can see that Ireland’s fluctuations are far more severe than our European counterparts. While Ireland saw a drop of over 2.5% in retail sales in Dec 2010, Europe saw a fall of only about 0.2%. When Ireland rebounded strongly in Jan 2011 with 2.1% growth, Europe only experienced 0.2% growth.
These extreme fluctuations, coupled with an unpredictable positive/negative trend make it hard to judge whether Ireland’s retail sales have bottomed out. April and May of 2011 both show drops in retail sales. Overall, this is not a positive sign for retailers, who have continued to see declining sales.
Justin Doran is a Lecturer in Economics, in the Department of Economics, University College Cork, Ireland.