With GDP surging 7.2% in 2017 – making the Republic of Ireland (ROI) the fastest-growing economy in the EU for the fourth year in a row, albeit from a comparatively low base – the country’s output continues to outshine the rest of the Continent.
This is a very different picture to a decade ago when the housing bubble burst and a catastrophic financial crash resulted in an international bailout of €67.5bn (£59bn) in 2010.
However, there are questions over whether the GDP figure is an accurate measure, given that much of the growth in output is due to the increasing numbers of multinational firms such as Google, Facebook and Apple domiciling some of their offices in Ireland in order to take advantage of its low corporation tax.
Ireland is on a hiring spree with sectors such as finance, construction and hospitality increasing employee numbers, which is helping drive household expenditure. However, property prices continue to rise and the nation is reporting a chronic shortage of housing.
The retail outlook
Retail is Ireland’s largest industry, contributing 23% of total tax receipts to the Irish exchequer, more than twice that of the country’s second largest sector, the financial services, at 11%. It is also the largest private-sector employer, with 285,000 working in retail.
Thanks to higher employment leading to more disposable income, retail sales rose 7% to €40bn (£35bn) in 2017. However, it was widely reported that 60% of online spending in 2017 went to non-Irish companies.