Monthly retail sales volumes rose for the first time in four months in August, rising by 2% compared to July, new Central Statistics Office figures show today.

But on an annual basis, retail sales were down by 5.6% in August, the CSO added.

The largest monthly volume increases were seen in the books, newspapers and stationery category, which rose by 28%, while bar sales were up 7.5%, fuel sales increased by 7.2% and department stores were up 6.9%, the CSO said.

With inflation running at an almost 40-year high of around 9%, the CSO said the value of retail sales were 4.4% higher than in July and 3.4% lower on the year.

Today's CSO figures show that sales in bars, sales of pharmaceuticals, medical and cosmetic articles as well as clothing, footwear and textiles sales were the only sectors that showed an annual increase in the volume of sales in August.

But on bar sales, which were up 17.7%, the CSO cautioned on interpreting the increase as the comparison is with a low base from last year when some Covid-19 restrictions were still in place.

Despite the increase, bar sales are still 15.3% lower than its pre-Covid level in February 2020, the CSO added.

The CSO noted that the value of retail sales in the fuel sector rose by 20.5% in the year to August while the corresponding volume fell by 3.5% over the same period.

It said this reflected higher prices compared with the previous year.

Meanwhile, the proportion of retail sales transacted online - from Irish registered companies - was 4.9% in August compared with 4.8% in July 2022, 4.8% in August 2021 and 4.5% in August 2020.