The retail sales figures released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) for the last few months do not make happy reading, In the latest statistics, the volume of retail sales decreased by 15.4% in May 2009 compared to a year earlier.
But whenever I hear the doom-laden news of such retail statistics I think “hey – what about online sales?”. At PuddleDucks, our sales are increasing year-on-year and I know the same is the case with other Irish online retailers with many more retailers coming on stream all the time. I also understand that in times of recession many shoppers are moving online in search of lower prices, greater choice and added convenience.
I have enquired with the CSO and they have confirmed that the official retail sales figures in Ireland do not include online sales. So all the news of dropping retail sales is only covering shopping centre stores and high street stores but not online shopping sales. It’s as if online doesn’t exist.
But look at these statistics and forecasts from the UK:
- Online sales are 17% of all retail sales 
- Online shopping will grow by 137% from £8.9billion at the end of 2008 to £21.3billion by the end of 2011 
- Predicted that 30%-50% of all retail sales will be online within 5 years 
So in Ireland if a consumer moves spending from a high street shop to buy online, that sale disappears from the official sales statistics. In effect, it looks like that the online sales are not taking place at all. I understand that in the current downturn overall spending sentiment is falling but not counting online sales is making the effect seem worse.
Online shopping is a real shopping and has a huge future. There should be official Irish statistics available for it.
 PayPal Report
 Internet Retailing Report