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Press Statement


01 March 2021

Press Statement Retail Sales Index January 2021 (Provisional) December 2020 (Final)

Retail Sector significantly impacted by COVID-19 during 2020
  • Highest monthly volume decrease occurred in April 2020 (-35.7%)
  • Highest monthly volume increase recorded in June 2020 (+41.4%) following the first lockdown
  • The impact of COVID-19 restrictions on the Retail Sector in November 2020 (-12.3%) and January 2021 (-21.8%) were not as severe as the first lockdown
  • Highest percentage of turnover transacted online occurred in April 2020 at 15.3%
  • Comparing February 2020 to December of that year, some of the largest increases in retail sales were in Hardware, Paints & Glass (+30.0%) and Motor Trades (+21.5%)
  • Comparing February 2020 to December of that year, the largest decrease in retail sales was in Bars (-62.4%) and Books, Newspapers and Stationery (-10.8%)

Go to release: Retail Sales Index January 2021

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has today (01 March 2021) released the Retail Sales Index January 2021 (Provisional) December 2020 (Final).

Commenting on the release, Stephanie Kelleher, Statistician, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions imposed had a significant impact on the Retail Sector in 2020. The Year 2020 saw the highest seasonally adjusted monthly decrease in April (-35.7%) related to the first lockdown followed by a sharp recovery in May 2020 (+32.8%) and June 2020 (+41.4%) as the country re-opened. 

The percentage of online sales in Irish registered enterprises remained stable since records began in 2018 at between 2.5% to 4% prior to the impact of COVID-19. In April the percentage transacted online increased to 15.3%. While overall retail sales fell in April, the closure of non-essential shops and outlets saw many consumers move online to purchase goods. As traditional shopping re-opened, the proportion of transactions online fell.

The impact of COVID-19 on 2020 retail sales had different impacts depending on the retail sectors. Seasonally adjusted volume of sales in December 2020 were lower than February 2020 in:

  • Bars (-62.4%)
  • Books, Newspapers and Stationery (-10.8%)
  • Department Stores (-4.4%)

All other sectors had sales greater than they had in February 2020. The sectors with the highest increases when December is compared to February were:

  • Hardware, Paints & Glass (+30.0%)
  • Motor Trades (+21.5%)
  • Food, Beverages & Tobacco (Specialised Stores) (+19.8%)
  • Furniture & Lighting (+16.6%)

The sale of Food in Supermarkets (Non-Specialised stores) and in Specialised Stores grew substantially in 2020 compared to the same time the previous year.”

Editor's Note:

See Information note for further details.

For further information contact:

Stephanie Kelleher (+353) 21 453 5123

or email

or email

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