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Retail Trade

Retail Trade

SMEs accounted for 99.7% of enterprises

CSO statistical publication, , 11am

Retail Trade Key Variables

Retail Trade (G47) had a total of 23,709 active enterprises in 2020. These enterprises generated almost €38.8 billion in turnover and accounted for almost 225,000 persons engaged.

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are defined as enterprises with less than 250 persons engaged. In this chapter, SMEs are further split into three groups: micro enterprises with fewer than 10 persons engaged, small enterprises with between 10 and 49 persons engaged, and medium sized enterprises with between 50 and 249 persons engaged.

SMEs accounted for almost all enterprises (99.7%) in the Retail Trade in 2020. Micro enterprises accounted for 85.1%, small 12.8%, and medium 1.7% of all enterprises.

Large enterprises (250+ persons engaged) accounted for just 0.3% of all enterprises but employed more than one-third (37.8%) of all persons engaged, accounted for 46.0% of total turnover and 38.9% of gross value added (GVA).

X-axis labelLarge (250+ persons engaged)SMEs (<250 persons engaged)
Active Enterprises0.399.7
Persons Engaged37.862.2
Gross Value Added38.961.1
Personnel Costs41.458.6
Wages and Salaries41.158.9
5.1 Key variables for Retail Trade by size class, 2020

Breakdown of Business Costs

The Retail Trade sector purchased €28.8 billion worth of goods and services in 2020. Purchases of Goods for resale accounted for the largest business cost at €24.6 billion or 72.5% of total costs, followed by Labour costs (Wages & salaries and Social security costs) at 14.6%.

Business Costs
Wages & salaries13.4
Purchases of
goods for resale
Indirect taxes0.4
5.2 Breakdown of Business Costs for Retail Trade, 2020

Retail Trade Business Groups

In Retail Trade, the business groups with the highest turnover were Non-Specialised Stores (incl. Supermarkets) which generated turnover of €16.4 billion (42.2%), Pharmaceuticals, Medical & Cosmetic Articles (€4.2 billion or 10.8%) and Other Retail Sales (€3.3 billion or 8.5%). Other Retail Sales includes a range of goods including specialised items such as home heating oil and online sales. It should be noted that in the case of online sales, only turnover of Irish resident companies is included.

For long labels below use
to display on multiple lines
Non-Specialised Stores (incl. Supermarkets) 16361
Pharmaceuticals, Medical & Cosmetic Articles4176
Other Retail Sales3295
Clothing, Footwear & Textiles2707
Electrical Goods2014
Hardware, Paints & Glass1854
Department Stores 1797
Food, Beverages & Tobacco1486
Furniture & Lighting1018
Mail order and online sales700
Not included in the RSI (G4779, G478 and G4799)490
Books, Newspapers & Stationery396
5.3 Key variables for selected business groups and size class, 2020

Retail Sales Index

The Retail Sales Index excluding Motor Trades and Bars is a leading indicator of the domestic economy published each month. There is a peak each year at Christmas time and at other times of the year due to seasonal sales or other holiday periods. The series is seasonally adjusted to remove this element and to allow for trends in the Retail Trade to be identified. The largest monthly seasonally adjusted decline in the volume of sales occurred in April 2020 when COVID-19 restrictions were first imposed (-21.9%). This was followed by the highest seasonally adjusted monthly increase in June 2020 (22.7%) when restrictions were lifted for the retail sector. When restrictions were re-imposed later in 2020 the monthly decline was not as dramatic (-10.3% in November 2020 and -15.0% in January 2021). The retail sector has recovered to pre-pandemic levels since restrictions were ended.

Figure 5.4 Retail Sales Index for All retail business, excluding motor trades and bars, January 2017 - December 2022
5.4 Seasonally Adjusted Indices of Total Retail Sales for All Businesses, excluding motor trades and bars