Retail sales fell by 1.7% in October compared to the previous month but were 9% up on pre-pandemic levels in the same time of 2019, new Central Statistics Office figures show today.

The highest increases compared to 2019 levels were seen in the electrical goods, furniture and lighting and food, beverages and tobacco categories, which were all up by over 20%.

But bar and fuel sales were both 6% lower, while sales of books, newspapers and stationery were down 4.2%.

On an annual basis, the CSO said the sector with the highest volume increase in October was bars with sales racing 271% higher.

But it noted that in October of last year, the country was under Level 3 Covid-19 restrictions from early October 2020 and Level 5 lockdown for the final 10 days of the month.

Other sectors to show large increases in volume in October compared to the same time last year included clothing and footwear sales which rose by over 29%, while sales of books, newspapers and stationery increased by just over 19%.

The greatest annual decreases in volume occurred in hardware, paints and glass, which decreased by 21.5%.

Other Retail Sales - which includes sales of carpets, music and video recordings, games and toys, flowers, plants, seeds, fertilisers, pet animals and pet food and jewellery - were down 15.9%.

Today's CSO figures also show that the value of retail sales was 1.4% lower in October compared to the previous month.

On an annual basis the value of retail sales was 7.9% higher than October 2020.

Meanwhile, the proportion of retail sales transacted online from Irish registered companies was 5.7% in October. This compared to 4.6% in September, 6% in October 2020 and 3.4% in October 2019.

Separate credit and debit card usage compiled by the Central Bank showed today that spending to November 21 rose 3% compared to the same period of October.