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Information note on the implications of COVID-19 on the Retail Sales Index May 2022

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Retail Sales Index

Data for the Retail Sales Index (RSI) is collected monthly from a sample of 1,600 retail enterprises. Despite difficult circumstances, many retailers have continued to supply us with information each month and we wish to thank all survey respondents for their ongoing support. 

May 2022 vs May 2021

In May 2021 Ireland still faced various COVID-19 restrictions, while in May 2022 no restrictions were in force and all sectors including retail could operate normally.


The Retail Sales Index is based on a matched sample of enterprises in consecutive months. Imputation is not normally carried out for smaller enterprises which have not returned data. In each sector several key companies are identified based on their significance to the sector (turnover). If key company data is not received on time for the Provisional results, then an estimate is made using trends shown by other similar companies and from other available data sources.

Auxiliary data sources have also been used to validate the results for May 2022 at retail business sector level. The CSO is satisfied that this range of information supports the trends estimated in the Retail Sales Index for March. The auxiliary sources used for imputation and validation purposes included:

  • Published media and research reports on the retail sector 
  • Retailers’ websites, for information issued by non-responding companies about closure, continuation of trade, online trade, etc
  • Data from other CSO outputs

Seasonal Adjustment

The spending patterns since March 2020 have been an exception to the existing seasonal patterns. Seasonally adjusting the Retail Sales Index will be challenging until the scale and shape of the impact COVID-19 has on the time series is better understood. The seasonal adjustment models have been reviewed each month since March 2020 and have been changed as appropriate. Users should be aware that further observations, as data becomes available in the months ahead, and revisions to the seasonal adjustment models may result in revisions to the seasonally adjusted series. 

Thanking Respondents

The CSO wishes to thank all those enterprises who supplied their retail sales data for May 2022 and urge them to continue to do so for June 2022 and future months. Even if turnover is nil or very low, such information is still required to measure the trend in sales in each retail sector. The CSO will continue to monitor the range of supplementary information to derive the best estimate for retail sales in June 2022. The June Retail Sales Index is planned for publication on 28th July 2022.

Why you can Trust the CSO

Learn about our data and confidentiality safeguards, and the steps we take to produce statistics that can be trusted by all.