Retail sales in Ireland fell by 6% on a like-for-like basis over the second quarter of the year, with womenswear particularly hard hit.
The sales slump follows a 3% fall in the first quarter of the year and it marks the 40th consecutive month of declining sales in the region.The unrelenting fall in sales raises the prospect of more store closures and job losses, according to Retail Excellence Ireland (REI), which compiled the figures.
Womenswear was the worst performing sector in the second quarter to the end of June falling by 8%. Overall retail like-for-like sales declined by 4.5% in April, 8% in May and 6% in June.
REI chief executive David Fitzsimons said: “It’s clear from the Q2 figures that the decline in the retail sales has not yet reached the bottom.
“While many had hoped that during 2011 the relentless decline we have seen since 2007 would level off, this is simply not happening.
“With further anticipated interest rate rises and the Government continuing to talk of increased charges, we don’t anticipate any pick up in sentiment in the coming months.
“As a result of this trend, allied to scandalously high retail rents and inflexible labour costs, many retailers will be forced to close their doors and more retail jobs will be lost throughout Ireland.”
Fitzsimons highlighted that 40,000 retail jobs have already been lost since 2008, and he estimates that a further 40,000 jobs are currently under threat.
He added: “Consumers are continuing to hold back on many of the purchases that were commonplace in recent years. Declines in areas like ladies fashions and electrical goods are symptomatic of this depressed consumer sentiment.”
REI said that “of serious concern” is the fact that all retail sectors recorded falls in year-on-year sales levels.
The Average Transaction Value (ATV) continued to decline, falling 6%.
Fitzsimons highlighted one bright spot however, referring to the abolition of upward only rent reviews in Ireland.