The volume of retail sales rose by an historic 90.1% on an annual basis in April, the latest Central Statistics Office show.

However, this is compared to April of last year when sales collapsed by almost 37% due to Covid-19 restrictions.

The CSO has instead compared last month's figures to April 2019 and this shows that the volume of sales is up 7.1% compared to two years ago.

When car sales are excluded, retail sales are up 27.6%.

Today's figures show that the volume of sales across several sectors is still sharply down, however.

Compared to April 2019, the volume of department store sales was down 73.4%, while clothing sales were down 68.2% and newspapers and books sales dropped by 50.7%.

The volume of sales of hardware was up 34% while specialised food and beverage sales rose by 27%.

Today's CSO figures show that online sales declined to 9.2% in April compared to their peak of 15.3% in April last year.

However, online sales did account for half of all clothing sales and a fifth of electrical goods last month.

The CSO said it based its figures on online sales from Irish registered companies.

Meanwhile, debit and credit card spending in shops last week rose by 14% or €92m on the previous week, according to the latest figures from the Central Bank.

The figures reflect the first full week of the reopening of non-essential retail.

The non-grocery retail sector saw the sharpest rise of 19% or €71m.

But the Central Bank said that online spending fell for the third week in a row, down 2% or €15m.