(Adds detail, analyst quotes)
DUBLIN, July 28 (Reuters) - Irish retail sales rose 3.5%
year-on-year in June, the first annual increase since the
coronavirus lockdown, as pent-up demand led to large increases
in many categories, even as parts of the economy remained
The reopening of all retail in early June and restaurants at
the end of the month under one of Europe's most cautious plans
to return to economic normality led to a record 38.4%
month-on-month jump in sales volumes.
Annual car sales stabilised, with furniture sales up 25%,
hardware up 30% and electrical goods up 14%, data from the
Central Statistics Office showed on Tuesday.
With nightclubs and pubs that do not serve food remaining
closed until at least next month, bar sales were down 81%
year-on-year, while fuel volumes were 18% lower as most
employees continued to work from home.
"Given the declines in April and May, a 3.5% increase in
sales volumes is actually not a whole lot. With the amount of
savings built up, one would have thought the spending growth
could have been more than that," Goodbody Stockbrokers chief
economist Dermot O'Leary said.
"There is some pent-up demand there but it still indicates
some level of caution towards using those savings and an element
of consumers not being able to spend in certain retail outlets,
the most prominent being bars."
Retail sales in June were 3.1% higher than February, before
the crisis began, but were still down 21.8% year-on-year for the
second quarter as a whole, reflecting the collapse in April and
Real-time figures from daily debit/credit card spending to
mobility data suggests a further sharp recovery in economic
activity in early July followed by a more recent easing, Davy
Stockbrokers chief economist Conall MacCoille wrote in a note.
Ireland's economy was the fastest growing in Europe for most
of the last five years before the pandemic struck.
(Reporting by Padraic Halpin
Editing by Gareth Jones and Nick Macfie)