Retail sales volumes fell on a monthly basis for the first time in six months in July, new figures from the Central Statistics Office show.

Retail sales dropped 1.7% in July as higher bar sales on the further reopening of the sector could not make up for a fall off in department store purchases from a high level in June.

But overall sales were 5.2% higher than the same month a year ago, when the first lockdown of the economy was being unwound, and 14% up on pre-pandemic levels in July 2019, the CSO said.

Today's figures show the largest monthly increase in sales in July was seen in bars, with sales up by 18.6% while electrical goods sales rose by 5.8%.

The sectors which saw the biggest decreases in the month included books, newspapers and stationery with sales falling by 21.6%.

Other Retail Sales - which include carpets, rugs, games and toys, flowers, plants, seeds, fertilisers, pets and pet food and jewellery - fell by 19.6%, while department stores sales were down 17.2%.

Furniture and lighting sales were off 8.7%, while clothing, footwear and Textiles sales slipped by 5.3%.

Today's figures show that compared to July 2019 - pre-Covid - the volume of retail sales in July of this year was 14% higher.

The CSO said that several sectors showed significant changes compared to their corresponding level of sales in July 2019.

Four sectors showed decreases - sales in bars were down 39.7%, books, newspapers and stationery sales fell by 31.5%), while fuel sales eased by 7% and department Stores sales were down 0.7%.

But all other sectors had sales in July of this year which exceeded July 2019 levels.

The highest increases were seen in motor trades (up 21.7%), food, beverages and tobacco (up 16.7%), electrical goods (up 15.6%) and pharmaceuticals, medical and cosmetic articles (up 15.1%).

The CSO also noted that the proportion of online retail sales (from Irish registered companies) stood at 4.6% in July, down from 4.9% of all retail sales in June 2021 and the same as July of last year.

Meanwhile, separate daily credit and debit card usage compiled by the Central Bank show that spending in the first three weeks of August was up 14% year-on-year, even as no further restrictions were eased this month.