The value of retail sales rose by 0.9% in May from the previous month and was 3.7% higher year-on-year, according to the latest provisional figures from the Central Statistics Office.

However, if motor trades are excluded, the annual increase is 4.9%, the CSO added.

The volume of retail sales increased by 0.3% in May 2002 compared to May 2001. If motor trades are excluded, the annual increase is 1.3%.

On a three month basis, the March to May 2002 value figures show a 2.1% decrease compared with the three months ending April 2002.

Friends First economist Jim Power says the figures highlight the gradual weakening trend in consumer spending. He cites a wide range of factors which are making consumers more cautious. These include the impact of job losses, the weakness of equity markets, high inflation and the problems in the domestic tourism sector.