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Background Notes

Background Notes

CSO statistical publication, , 11am

Retail Economy

The Retail Economy for the purposes of this publication comprises NACE 45- Motor Trades, NACE 47- Retail Trade, and NACE 56- Food & Beverage Service Activities.


Wholesale and retail trade and repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles 
45.1 Sale of Motor Vehicles
45.11 Sale of cars and light motor vehicles
45.19 Sale of other motor vehicles
45.2 Maintenance and repair of motor vehicles
45.20 Maintenance and repair of motor vehicles 
45.3 Sale of motor vehicle parts and accessories 
45.31 Wholesale trade of motor vehicle parts and accessories 
45.32 Retail trade of motor vehicle parts and accessories 
45.4 Sale, maintenance and repair of motorcycles and related parts and accessories 
45.40 Sale, maintenance and repair of motorcycles and related parts and accessories 



 Retail trade, except of motor vehicles and motorcycles
47.1 Retail sale in non-specialised stores 
47.11 Retail sale in non-specialised stores with food, beverages or tobacco predominating 
47.19 Other retail sale in non-specialised stores 
47.2 Retail sale of food, beverages and tobacco in specialised stores 
47.21 Retail sale of fruit and vegetables in specialised stores 
47.22 Retail sale of meat and meat products in specialised stores 
47.23 Retail sale of fish, crustaceans and molluscs in specialised store 
47.24 Retail sale of bread, cakes, flour confectionery and sugar confectionery in specialised stores 
47.25 Retail sale of beverages in specialised stores 
47.26 Retail sale of tobacco products in specialised stores 
47.29 Other retail sale of food in specialised stores 
47.3 Retail sale of automotive fuel in specialised stores 
47.30 Retail sale of automotive fuel in specialised stores 
47.4 Retail sale of information and communication equipment in specialised store 
47.41 Retail sale of computers, peripheral units and software in specialised stores 
47.42 Retail sale of telecommunications equipment in specialised stores 
47.43 Retail sale of audio and video equipment in specialised stores 
47.5 Retail sale of other household equipment in specialised stores 
47.51 Retail sale of textiles in specialised stores 
47.52 Retail sale of hardware, paints and glass in specialised stores 
47.53 Retail sale of carpets, rugs, wall and floor coverings in specialised stores 
47.54 Retail sale of electrical household appliances in specialised stores 
47.59 Retail sale of furniture, lighting equipment and other household articles in specialised stores 
47.6 Retail sale of cultural and recreation goods in specialised stores 
47.61 Retail sale of books in specialised stores 
47.62 Retail sale of newspapers and stationery in specialised stores 
47.63 Retail sale of music and video recordings in specialised stores 
47.64 Retail sale of sporting equipment in specialised stores 
47.65 Retail sale of games and toys in specialised stores 
47.7 Retail sale of other goods in specialised stores 
47.71 Retail sale of clothing in specialised stores 
47.72 Retail sale of footwear and leather goods in specialised stores 
47.73 Dispensing chemist in specialised stores 
47.74 Retail sale of medical and orthopaedic goods in specialised stores 
47.75  Retail sale of cosmetic and toilet articles in specialised stores 
47.77 Retail sale of watches and jewellery in specialised stores 
47.78 Other retail sale of new goods in specialised stores 
47.79 Retail sale of second-hand goods in stores 
47.8 Retail sale via stalls and markets 
47.81 Retail sale via stalls and markets of food, beverages and tobacco products 
47.82 Retail sale via stalls and markets of textiles, clothing and footwear 
47.89 Retail sale via stalls and markets of other goods 
47.9 Retail trade not in stores, stalls or markets 
47.91 Retail sale via mail order houses or via Internet 
47.99 Other retail sale not in stores, stalls or markets 



Food and beverage service activities 
56.1 Restaurants and mobile food service activities
56.10 Restaurants and mobile food service activities
56.2 Event catering and other food service activities
56.21 Event catering activities
56.29 Other food service activities
56.3 Beverage serving activities
56.30 Beverage serving activities


Annual Services Inquiry (ASI)

The Annual Services Inquiry has been conducted as an annual survey of both distributive and non-distributive services since 1991. Results are published aggregated by the type of activity (NACE), region, size class, etc. All enterprises with one or more persons engaged are included. Administrative data are used for some micro enterprises which are not surveyed as well as non-respondents across all case sizes.

The survey covers all enterprises in the Retail, Wholesale, Transport & Storage, Accommodation & Food, Information & Communication, Real Estate, Professional, Scientific & Technical Activities, Administrative & Support Activities and Other Selected Services sectors (NACE Rev. 2 sectors G, H, I, J, L, M, N, R and S). Enterprises that traded for at least 6 months in the reference year are included in the survey.

Vehicle Licensing

The vehicle licensing figures are compiled by the CSO from data supplied by the Driver and Vehicle Computer Services Division of the Department of Transport.

The data provide details on the number of private cars, goods vehicles, motor cycles and other vehicles licensed for the first time in each city and county council, classified by make and size, during a given month.

Retail Sales Index

The Retail Sales Index (RSI) is the official short-term indicator of changes in the level of consumer spending on retail goods in Ireland. It measures the trend in the level of average weekly sales for each month.

RSI figures are adjusted for seasonal factors through the year.

Earnings, Hours and Employment Costs

The Earnings, Hours and Employment Costs Survey (EHECS) is a survey that collects earnings, labour cost, hours and employment data from enterprises each quarter.

The EHECS survey provides the basis for the production of earnings and labour costs statistics, which measures the cost pressure arising from the production factor "labour" and provide a detailed picture of the level, structure and short-term development of labour costs in the different sectors of economic activity in Ireland.

The EHECS survey replaced the four-yearly Labour Costs Survey, and also replaced all other CSO short-term earnings inquiries. The EHECS results are comparable across sectors and include more detail on components of earnings and labour costs than was previously available.

Monthly Services Inquiry

The Monthly Services Index (MSI) monitors short term trends in output of enterprises in the non-financial traded services sector.

From January 2022, output is measured in current prices (turnover) and in constant prices (volume index) for each sector, where the value of turnover is deflated by price changes within each sector. 

Consumer Price Index

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is designed to measure the change in the average level of prices (inclusive of all indirect taxes) paid for consumer goods and services by all private and institutional households in the country and by foreign tourists holidaying in Ireland.

Approximately 50,000 prices are collected for a representative basket consisting of 615 item headings in a fixed panel of retail and service outlets throughout the country during the week containing the second Tuesday of each month up to and including the third Tuesday of each month.

Trading Day

The Trading Day & Product Profile Survey (TDS) is conducted once every five years with the primary purpose of maintaining the accuracy and objectivity of the Retail Sales Index (RSI). It updates the breakdown of sales by day of the week and by business group.

Labour Force Survey

The data presented in this chapter derive from the CSO’s quarterly Labour Force Survey (LFS). This survey uses probability sampling to construct labour force estimates for the entire country, where employment status is based on International Labour Organisation (ILO) concepts & guidelines. 

Online Sales

The collection of data for online turnover began in November 2018. Enterprises in the sample provide the value of their online turnover for the reporting period.

As for all of the surveys only Enterprises registered in Ireland are included and therefore exclude purchases from companies overseas.

Card Payments

The Credit & Debit Card Statistics provide data in relation to credit and debit card transactions and are produced by the Central Bank of Ireland.

Active Enterprises

The population of active enterprises contains all enterprises that were active at some point during the reference year. An enterprise is considered to be active if it generates turnover, employs staff, or makes investments in that year.

Persons Engaged

Persons engaged include employees, proprietors and family members. 

Employees are persons who are paid a fixed wage or salary.  Persons at work or temporarily absent because of illness, holidays, strike, etc. are included. Persons working on a labour-only subcontract basis are excluded with the exception of Irish Construction data.
Proprietors and family members; included here are those proprietors, partners, etc and members of their families who work regularly in the firm and are not paid a definite wage or salary.


Turnover comprises the totals invoiced by the enterprise during the reference period, and this corresponds to market sales of goods or services supplied to third parties. The sale of goods includes the goods produced by the enterprise as well as the merchandise purchased by a retailer or land and other property held for resale (if land and other property were initially purchased for investment purposes they should not be included in turnover). The rendering of services typically involves the performance by the enterprise of a contractually agreed task over an agreed period of time. The revenue of long-term contracts (eg building contracts) should be recognised by reference to the stage of completion of the contract and not the finished contract method. Goods produced for own consumption or investment should be excluded from turnover.

Turnover includes all duties and taxes on the goods or services invoiced by the unit with the exception of the value added type taxes (VAT). VAT are collected in stages by the enterprise and fully borne by the final purchaser.

Turnover also includes all other charges (transport, packaging, etc) passed on to the customer, even if these charges are listed separately in the invoice. Reduction in prices, rebates and discounts as well as the value of returned packing must be deducted.

Gross Value Added (GVA) at factor cost

GVA at factor cost is the gross income from operating activities after adjusting for operating subsidies and indirect taxes.

It can be calculated from turnover, plus capitalised production, plus other operating income (including operating subsidies), plus or minus the changes in stocks, minus the purchases of goods and services, minus other taxes on products which are linked to turnover but not deductible, minus the duties and taxes linked to production. The duties and taxes linked to production are compulsory, unrequited payments, in cash or in kind which are levied by general government, or by the Institutions of the European Union, in respect of the production and importation of goods and services, the employment of labour, the ownership or use of land, buildings or other assets used in production irrespective of the quantity or the value of goods and services produced or sold. Alternatively, it can be calculated from Gross Operating Surplus (GOS) by adding personnel costs.

Purchases of goods and services

Purchases of goods and services include the value of all goods and services purchased during the accounting period for resale or consumption in the production process, excluding capital goods the consumption of which is registered as consumption of fixed capital. The goods and services concerned may be either resold with or without further transformation, completely used up in the production process or retained as stock.

Included in these purchases are the materials that enter directly into the goods produced (raw materials, intermediary products, components), plus non-capitalised small tools and equipment. Also included are the value of ancillary materials (lubricants, water, packaging, maintenance and repair materials, office materials) as well as energy products. Included in this variable are the purchases of materials made for the production of capital goods by the unit.

Services paid for during the reference period are also included regardless of whether they are industrial or non-industrial. In this figure are payments for all work carried out by third parties on behalf of the unit including current repairs and maintenance, installation work and technical studies. Amounts paid for the installation of capital goods and the value of capitalised goods are excluded.

Also included are payments made for non-industrial services such as legal and accountancy fees, patents and licence fees (where they are not capitalised), insurance premiums, costs of meetings of shareholders and governing bodies, contributions to business and professional associations, postal, telephone, electronic communication, telegraph and fax charges, transport services for goods and personnel, advertising costs, commissions (where they are not included in wages and salaries), rents, bank charges (excluding interest payments) and all other business services provided by third parties. Included are services which are transformed and capitalised by the unit as capitalised production.

Personnel costs

Personnel costs are defined as the total remuneration, in cash or in kind, payable by an employer to an employee (regular and temporary employees as well as home workers) in return for work done by the latter during the reference period.

Personnel costs also include taxes and employees' social security contributions retained by the unit as well as the employer's compulsory and voluntary social contributions.

Personnel costs are made up of:

  • wages and salaries
  • employers' social security costs