New figures from the Central Statistics Office show that the volume of retail sales rose by 0.3% in February when compared to January 

This was the first monthly rise since October, while there was no change in the annual figure.

The CSO said that when motor trades are excluded, the volume of retail sales fell by 0.2% last month compared to January, while there was an annual increase of 1%.

Breaking down the figures, they show that other sales in non-specialised stores rose by 0.6% while sales in food, beverages and tobacco stores grew by 0.5%.

Sales of books, newspapers and stationery fell by 2.6% while electrical goods sales eased by 1.2%.

Commenting on the figures, Merrion economist Alan McQuaid said that the retail sales data for the first two months of the year are a clear indication that consumers still remain very cautious.

''It is hard to see a major upward rise in personal expenditure in the coming months given the ongoing uncertain economic/financial climate,'' he said.

He added that the introduction of the property tax together with the still high level of unemployment will impact negatively on overall retail sales this year.