Bumper month for garages helps boost retail sales

CORMAC MCQUINN 

A BUMPER month on car dealers' forecourts has bumped up retail sales, new figures have revealed.

The introduction of the new 132 registration plates in July has meant that otherwise sluggish growth in retail sales generally has been helped by the leap in new cars sold.

New figures released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show modest growth in retail sales last month of 1.3pc.

However, when the motor industry's sales are included, the increase jumps to a robust 6.1pc in the value of retails sales in July compared to the previous month.

According to the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI), more than 11,500 cars were sold in July, over twice the number sold in the same month last year. A spokeswoman said the impact of the new plates "completely exceeded our expectations".

Car dealer and SIMI president Paul Linders told the irish independantt that sales at his Toyota garage in Chapelizod, Dublin, were up 45pc year-on-year. He said that the introduction of the new registration plates made "an absolutely enormous difference", creating footfall in garages that drove the sale of used cars as well as new.

Mr Linders, who also owns a Renault dealership in Finglas, said: "For the first time in the history of our business, I'm having a year in which I haven't lost money in any month."

Other sectors that recorded growth included books, newspapers and stationery (up 16.2pc), clothing, footwear and textiles (up 5.3pc) and pubs (up 2.8pc).

The sectors with the largest monthly decreases were electrical goods (down 4.9pc) and fuel (down 4.2pc).

Overall retail sales in July were up year-on-year by 4.4pc.

ISME, the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association, welcomed what it called a "slight increase in retail sales" in July but called on the Government to establish a national retail strategy group.

Chief executive Mark Fielding said the increase was "no thanks to the Government".

CHARGES

Mr Fielding said: "They have allowed the rescued banks to hike up bank charges, condoned increases in local government rates and charges, and ran away from upward-only rents while threatening the reintroduction of uneconomic wage-setting mechanisms. It is imperative that government do more than just hang around as the sector implodes."

labour Party TD Ciaran Lynch said: "While still a job of work remains to get Ireland back to full recovery, these figures bode well."

He said retailers would get a further boost before Christmas due to the scheduling of Budget 2014 in October.

Sean Murphy of Chambers Ireland said that the Budget must build on the "momentum" of the retail sales increase.

Irish Independent

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