Damian Gleeson, Head of Retail, comments on the Retail Excellence Ireland Q4 2016 figures.
The latest REI statistics show a drop in revenue in a number of consumer goods categories. This is at a time when the economy is growing, unemployment is dropping and grocery sales, a key barometer of available spend, is on the increase.
In Q4, consumer goods such as electronics, small home appliances, IT and computing show a decrease in sales. The reason, well, it is cheaper to shop online through UK websites for such goods. My 13 year old remarked to me a couple of months ago, when we were browsing the internet for a certain item, that we should switch to a UK equivalent website as we would pick up our product for 10% to 15% less. Unfortunately Irish sites and retail outlets were slow to react to the currency fluctuation caused by Brexit and this has manifested itself in the drop in spend domestically on goods that can be bought and shipped from other jurisdictions.
On the other hand, we have seen a remarkable turnaround in fortunes of our garden centres where revenue is up by over 18% on the previous year’s comparatives. This is not solely down to the unseasonal weather we have had this winter but also the significant improvement in product and service offering provided by a number of garden centres over the last few years. These centres are now providing a fantastic consumer experience due largely to significant investment and a clear vision of customer needs which has made them a destination choice for the consumer.