New figures from the Central Statistics Office show that the proportion of retail sales conducted online fell to 5.8% in January of this year compared to 9.7% during the previous month.

It also marked a fall from a rate of 11% in January 2021 but was up from a rate of 3.2% in January 2020, before the outbreak of Covid-19.

The CSO noted that the proportion of retail sales generated online in December 2019 stood at 4.1%.

In the first three months of 2020 - before Covid-19 forced the closure of non-essential shops - the share of online sales continued at 3.2% in January, 3.5% in February and 4.5% in March.

But following the first Covid lockdown on March 27 2020, the share of online sales increased dramatically and online sales represented 15.3% of total turnover in April 2020.

The CSO said there were similar but less dramatic increases in the share of online sales in subsequent lockdowns.

The country was placed under Level 5 restrictions for six weeks from October 21 2020 and was again placed under Level 5 restrictions on December 31 2020.

Following these lockdowns, the share of online sales was 12.4% in November 2020, 11% in January 2021 and 11.8% in February 2021, the CSO reported.

Today's figures show that in December 2019 and before Covid, 7.3% of clothing, footwear and textile sales were generated online. This soared to 66.3% of total sales in the sector in April 2020 during the first lockdown.

In the subsequent lockdowns, the online share was 67.1% in November 2020, 62.7% in January 2021 and 65.9% in February 2021.

In the final months of 2021, the online share of sales of clothing, footwear and textiles was 9.6% in October, 14.7% in November and 8.8% in December.

Meanwhile, 5% of department store sales were generated online in December 2019, before the pandemic. In April 2020, this had increased to 51.1%.

The various lockdowns saw the online share of sales by department stores reach 28.8% in November 2020, followed by 26.9%, 35.8% and 28.5% over the course of January, February and March 2021.