Retail sales fell by 4.3% on a monthly basis in February to stand 0.3% lower on an annual basis, new figures from the Central Statistics Office show.

The data was collected before the coronavirus outbreak shut down most of the country's shops. 

Ireland reported its first confirmed case of the virus on February 29, shut pubs across the country in the middle of March and all non-essential retailers this week. 

When volatile car sales are excluded from the February data, the volume of retail sales decreased by 2.4% month-on-month and were 1.6% higher on an annual basis, the Central Statistics Office said.

Today's figures show the sectors with the largest monthly decreases included the motor sector, with car sales slowing by 6.4% while sales of hardware, paints and glass fell by 1.6%.  

Meanwhile, the CSO said the sectors with the largest monthly increases included furniture and lighting, which rose by 6.6%, while clothing, footwear and textiles increased by 3.2%.