Online Shopping not included in retail sales statistics

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 [2]
  • Online shopping will grow by 137% from £8.9billion at the end of 2008 to £21.3billion by the end of 2011 [1]
  • Predicted that 30%-50% of all retail sales will be online within 5 years [2]

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.


[1] PayPal Report

[2] Internet Retailing Report


  1. Test

    • Ann Sheehy said

      Hi Aedan,
      Barra Casey in the CSO has kindly sent me a copy of the CSO Internet Survey for 2008 and it contains some interesting information although it does not answer my original question.

      The survey is not based across all of Irish business and therefore the figures must be viewed accordingly; however, that said, the survey reports a figure of online sales made by these Irish companies as being 18% of turnover.

      This still doesn’t tell us what percentage of total sales is being generated through the internet, but it’s a start. If anyone wants to have a read for themselves have a look at And again, if anyone out knows of research findings, I’d be delighted to hear from you.

      Ann Sheehy
      Marketing Consultant

      • Hi Ann,

        Thanks for the comment and the link. It’s a large survey. I’m afraid I can’t find the 18% tuenover figure. Is that saying that online sales at the time are 18% of all retail sales?
        I have seen another stat that’s interesting: “In the 12 months prior to Q1 2008 almost 1.2M people had order goods or services online”. I am sure this is higher now. Yet these sales are not counted anywhere in the official retail statistics. Interesting!

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