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CSO statistical release, , 11am

Retail Sales Index

April 2021 (Provisional) March 2021 (Final)

Seasonally Adjusted Retail Sales Index - All Businesses
 (Base Year 2015 = 100)
    Volume IndexValue Index
April 2019119.4111.7
April 202067.361.4
March 2021119.0108.6
April 2021127.8121.5
% change  
April 2019 - April 20217.1%8.7%

Volume of Retail Sales rose by 7.4% in April 2021

Figure 1 Retail Sales Index - Seasonally Adjusted Volume
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Retail sales increased by 7.4% in April 2021 when compared to March 2021 on a seasonally adjusted basis. On an annual basis, retail volumes were 90.1% higher than in April 2020. While this was the highest annual increase ever recorded, it reflects a recovery from the very steep fall in retail sales in April 2020, the first full month of the COVID-19 lockdown. In April 2020 retail sales registered their largest monthly decline on record, falling by 36.9%. The retail sales figure for April 2021 was 7.1% higher than April 2019.

Recovering from the extremely low level of April 2020, the sectors with the highest annual increases were Furniture & Lighting (+694%), Motor Trades (+576%) and Hardware, Paints & Glass (+166%). While these annual increases are significant, caution should be exercised when interpreting these changes, as the comparison is with an historically low base from a year ago. 

In April of last year, the annual volume of retail sales in Furniture & Lighting fell by 86.0%, Motor Trades dropped by 81.0% and Hardware, Paints & Glass declined by 49.6%. At the other end of the scale, the volume of sales in Non-Specialised Stores (including supermarkets), which remained an essential retail service throughout the duration of the pandemic, had an annual increase of just 3.2% in April.

Compared to April 2019 (two years earlier and pre-COVID-19), the volume of retail sales in April 2021 was 7.1% higher than the level recorded for April 2019. A number of sectors were below their corresponding level of sales in April 2019. These included Bars (-88.8%), Department Stores (-73.4%), Clothing, Footwear & Textiles (-68.2%), Books, Newspapers & Stationery (-50.7%) and Fuel (-11.1%). All other sectors had a volume of sales in April 2021 which exceeded April 2019 levels, the highest increases were seen in Hardware, Paints & Glass (+34.1%), Motor Trades (+28.2%) and Food, Beverages & Tobacco (Specialised Stores) (+26.7%). See Table 3a.

In April 2021, the largest monthly increases in sales were recorded in Bars (+42.2%) and Motor Trades (+41.0%). The largest decreases in the month were in Department Stores (-54.3%), Clothing, Footwear & Textiles (-16.3%) and Books, Newspapers & Stationery (-14.8%). See Table 3.

When Motor Trades are excluded, the volume of retail sales decreased by 4.1% in April over the previous month and increased by 27.6% when compared to April 2020, again showing a strong recovery from the low base of last year. See Table 2.

The proportion of retail sales transacted online (from Irish registered companies) fell to 9.2% in April 2021, down from 11.1% of all retail sales in March and from a high of 15.3% in April 2020. Almost half of Clothing, Footwear & Textiles (45.7%), more than one third of Department Store sales (35.2%) and one fifth of Electrical Goods (19.5%) were transacted online in April 2021. See Tables 6 & 7.

The value of retail sales was 11.9% higher in April 2021 than in March 2021. On an annual basis the value of retail sales was 97.8% higher than April 2020. Excluding Motor Trades, the value of retail sales decreased by 2.9% in the month and increased by 25.7% on an annual basis. See Tables 1 & 2.

Unadjusted indices are available on CSO PxStat