IBEC reaction to new CSO retail and live register figures

IBEC, the group that represents Irish business, today said that the latest economic indicators show that the economy has started to grow again. Both the live register and the retail sales figures released by the CSO today reflect positively on current economic activity

IBEC senior economist Fergal O'Brien said: "The economy is now almost certainly expanding again and the recession appears to have ended in the early months of this year. The retail sales data for the first quarter of the year show an improvement for that sector, albeit coming off a very poor base. Excluding the volatile car trade, the volume of retail sales grew by 1.1% in the first quarter of the year, while the value of sales also grew by the same amount.

"Consumer confidence has clearly strengthened since December's Budget and consumers are now most likely saving a lower percentage of income than at the end of last year. A substantial fall in the volume of cross-border shopping has also helped recovery in the sector.

"The live register figures point towards a stabilisation in the labour market. The unemployment rate has now remained unchanged during the first four months of the year and has hopefully peaked. Nevertheless, the unemployment problem remains a daunting one for Government.

"During what has been a very volatile week in the European and global financial markets, it is positive to see further evidence of economic recovery in Ireland. However, the rising cost of borrowing means that the Government's progress on repairing the public finances will remain in the international spotlight."

Article Published: 07/05/2010