Online retail share drops again in April to less than 10%
The proportion of retail sales made online by Irish registered businesses fell to 9.2% last month, from 11.1% of all retail sales in March, according to figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO).
Irish business online sales peaked 15.3% in April last year, the first full month of the Covid-19 blockade.
Overall, retail sales rose 7.4% in April from March, according to the CSO.
Excluding auto sales, however, retail sales volume declined 4.1% in April from the previous month.
April sales were up 90% year-over-year, the biggest increase on record. The year-over-year change is measured from a historically low base, as April of last year was the first full month of the lockdown in Ireland.
Retail sales for April 2021 were 7.1% higher than the corresponding month in 2019, according to CSO data.
The April figures do not include the return of click-and-collect and the reopening of non-essential retail, which both took place this month.
After recovering from the extremely low level of April 2020, the sectors with the highest annual increases were furniture and lighting, up 694% year-on-year, engine sales up by 576% year-over-year; and paint and glass, which increased 166% the previous year.
In April of this year, the list of essential retail businesses allowed to remain open was longer than in April 2020 during the first lockdown.
In April of last year, the annual retail sales volume of furniture and lighting fell 86%, sales of engines by 81% and hardware, paints and glass by 49.6%.
“By the third lockdown, consumers and retailers got used to the tight market conditions,” CSO statistician Stephanie Kelleher said.
At the other end of the scale, the volume of sales in non-specialty stores, including supermarkets, which remained an essential retail service throughout the duration of the pandemic, has seen an annual increase of 3.2 % in April of this year.
“People are now more comfortable online, there has been more click-and-collect acceptance, and now the stores are open again,” said Duncan Graham, Managing Director of Retail Excellence.
“It’s hard to judge how people will react online [sales] are going to be much higher. “
Yet Irish retailers have been more pessimistic this month than in April, according to the European Commission’s latest Economic Climate Indicator (ESI).
While general economic sentiment improved in Ireland, with the services and construction sectors posting the largest increases, figures remained below the EU average, which was close to a record high.
The ESI gained four points in the EU (to 113.9) and the euro area (to 114.5) in May and is now well above pre-pandemic levels. Anything above 100 indicates a boost in confidence.
The biggest gains were seen in the bloc’s largest economies, including Italy, Poland and France.